Leading man Gabriel Byrne adds a "Harlequin Romance" dash to the two-part, six-hour TV movie Christopher Columbus. Seeking out a swifter route to the lucrative Indies, Genoa-born Columbus begs King John of Portugal (Max Von Sydow) to finance a westbound expedition. Failing this, he turns to Spain's Queen Isabella (Faye Dunaway), who is entranced by Columbus' near-religious fervor. After the famous 1492 expedition, Columbus is bankrolled for future forays into the New World, which win him both adulation and vilification. Originally telecast May 19 and 20, 1985, Christopher Columbus was filmed on location in Spain, Malta and the Dominican Republic, making full use of a $15 million budget. It isn't an earth-shattering cinematic experience, but is lots more worthwhile (and less ponderous) than the brace of Columbus biopics inflicted upon movie audiences in 1992. Those concerned with political correctness should be satisfied with the film's second half, which explores the more sinister elements of chauvinistic colonization.
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