Joseph Farrelly | San diego | 04/19/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Interviews with author were a little sketchy. No emphasis on religious motives of columbus. No maps or dates, for example, how long did it take. No mention of the fact that Columbus had Marco Polos book with him. Very brief mention of what the Portugesse were doing and next to nothing about the spice trade.
Room for improvement."
Columbus the man - neither myth nor fiend
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 02/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Columbus has long been honored for discovering the New World, but in recent years he has been rather viciously attacked for his treatment of the Indians he came into contact with. It's nothing new for Columbus, who in his own life was at one time proclaimed a hero but then left to die in disgrace and misery. The real Columbus almost surely lies between these two extremes. He was in many ways a man of his times - albeit a mighty persistent, self-confident one. The traditional version of Columbus' journey across the Atlantic does not really tell the story. One point this video makes strongly is the fact that the whole "earth is flat" issue was never really an issue; most geographers of the time knew the world was round. Columbus said the earth was 20% smaller than the experts believed, which meant that one could sail west to Asia much more quickly than everyone thought. Columbus was, of course, quite wrong, and he most likely still believed, as he lay on his deathbed in 1506, that he had discovered Asia.
Columbus' dream of sailing west to Asia became his obsession. Such a possibility certainly must have had a tiny bit of appeal, for the land route to the world described by Marco Polo had been cut off by the Moslem capture of Constantinople. At that time, Portugal was making a name for itself in shipping and exploration, and Columbus found himself shipwrecked (after being attacked by pirates) just off the Portuguese coast at the age of 25. He tried to talk Portugal's king into sponsoring him, but the king said no. Columbus then went to Spain. By now, his dream of sailing west to Asia was becoming an obsession, and he felt chosen by God to do this great thing. It took a year to win an audience with the Spanish king and queen, and even though Isabella showed an interest in his idea, it would be seven more years (when Spain finally defeated the Moors) before Columbus' request would be granted.
Off he went with 90 men on three relatively small ships. Two months at sea without sighting of land had his crew ready to rebel, but something besides water finally appeared on the horizon. Columbus triumphantly claimed the land for Spain and set about looking for gold; the natives he encountered were a far cry from the Asians Columbus expected to find, but they would gladly trade gold for silly little beads. After forcing some natives to show him where gold could be found, he sailed to present-day Haiti (losing the Santa Maria in the process) and left a small colony there while he returned rather triumphantly to Spain. When he came back to the New World, he found his settlers had all been killed, and at this point the relationship between the old and new settlers changed. Indians were now basically enslaved and made to work, searching for all of that elusive gold, disease took the lives of many men on both sides of the divide, and his men began to rebel. Having hanged some of the rebels, Columbus found himself returned to Spain in chains. Released by Isabella, a growingly frustrated Columbus asked for one more chance, which he finally got; while he made his men swear that they were in Asia, he never found what he was looking for, eventually dying a rather miserable, lonely death. He never understood just what he had accomplished, Amerigo Vespucci got the New World named after him, and even in modern times his accomplishment has been somewhat diminished by the fact that the Vikings reached the New World before he did. If that's not enough, no one even knows where he is buried, as the body was reportedly moved several times.
None of this takes anything away from Columbus' accomplishment, though. He may have been a pretty lousy administrator, but he was a great seaman and navigator, his four transatlantic voyages changed the world forever, and he was a visionary. He was, when you come right down to it, two things, which this video seems to show: a glorious failure (for he did fail in what he set out to do) and a normal man of his times, carrying both the bad and the good qualities that have made mankind such a fascinating creation."
Very good survey in under an hour
Danaidh | Chicago, IL United States | 07/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Balanced story of Christopher Columbus and his times. Every video I've seen in the A&E Biography series is made by people who genuinely liked and/or admired the subject of the video. That's true here. He had many virtues, but there is no attempt to sugar-coat the vices. The facts are stated.
This is not a comprehensive video on the life of Columbus. The 50-minute video can't devote even a whole minute to each of the 55 years Columbus lived. So the director picks and chooses what goes in; what gets cut. I suppose that even if it were a 3-hour film, someone could find some facts about Columbus that were left out.
I can use this video for my high school classes (where I will edit it down even further) because it fits in a single class period, and is a fair and accurate portrayal of a truly great man."
Columbus: The explorer reviewed
Verna L. Hurley | Loves Park, IL | 01/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My school has very little on explorers and nothing current on Columbus. I was delighted with the video. AE Biography videos are informative, and interesting to 8th graders. I will use this every year when I teach exploration.Thank you for making these educational videos available and I appreciate how quickly the video arrived."