Guest Writer: Ed Bagley
It took an inordinately long time for movie land to bring us a modern day treasure hunt worth watching, but Director Jon Turteltaub delivered big time in National Treasure, the story of a secret treasure that crosses the centuries.
National Treasure is the story of a vast bounty that continues to grow and change hands throughout time until confiscated by the Knights Templar as early as the 11th Century during the Crusades. The Knights Templar become the modern day Masons.
Eventually the treasure finds its way to our shores, and our founding fathers, several of whom were Masons, hide the treasure to help finance the Revolutionary War against the British.
Then the treasure was lost and six generations of the Gates Family carry on a search to prove its existence, the last of which is Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage). Gates is joined by sidekick Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), Patrick Gates (Jon Voight as Ben's father) and Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger).
Gates ends up stealing the Declaration of Independence to validate a clue and get the important document before the bag guys do (all treasure hunts have bad guys in the chase). Abigail, the curator of the National Archives, is pulled into the chase to recover the original document, and she eventually joins with Gates in a quest for the truth.
National Treasure is full of obscure clues, the trail of which keeps viewers riveted to the story line written by Jim Kouf and Oren Aviv, and polished by uncredited screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio.
It starts on the Arctic Coast with a 200-year-old meerschaum pipe found aboard a ship buried in snow named Charlotte, confirming the first clue: The Secret Lies With Charlotte. For the curious, meerschaum is a soft, white claylike material consisting of hydrated magnesium silicate, found chiefly in Turkey, so, in this case, meerschaum is a Turkish smoking pipe.
From there the original Declaration of Independence is stolen to confirm the presence of an undetected code on the back of the document.
Then it is on to the Silence Dogood Letters written by a young Benjamin Franklin when he was a printer with his brother. From there to the Liberty Bell at Independence Hall in Philadelphia and an ocular device (eyeglasses) hidden in a brick wall. Finally we are taken to Trinity Church near Broadway and Wall Streets in New York, and the grave of Parkington Lane.
In the end, the 200-year-old meerschaum pipe provides the "key" to the treasure.
This is a good film because of some nifty writing and direction by Jon Turteltaub. National Treasure loses the honors race for recognition by Oscar and associated award venues, but wins the viewer race by capturing its audience.
The unlikely path to finding the treasure is a 200-year-old wood staircase several stories high and fraught with crumbling boards and heroic escapes. I liked this film and I hope it shows.
Unlike the Indiana Jones trilogy with Harrison Ford, where you are drawn to Ford and his action adventure antics, National Treasure stays focused on the clues with the actors not upstaging the treasure hunt story line.
Turteltaub does this without the usual Hollywood props of sex, drugs, drinking, profanity, rape and murder, and gets high marks plus a Disney rating (PG) for doing so. The entire family can watch this movie without the fear of inappropriate scenes. There is some violence but by Hollywood standards for violence it is nothing.
Nick Cage does a good job in this film staying focused on the treasure chase, and Diane Kruger does most of her own stunt work in a harrowing car chase scene.
I like this movie despite some improbable happenings and filming goofs. None of this seems to interfere with the mission at hand: solving the clues and discovering the treasure.
See National Treasure. You will like it, especially if you like treasure hunts, or good story lines about treasure hunts.
Article by: Ed Bagley
Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley
Ed Bagley's Blog Publishes Original Articles with Analysis and Commentary on 5 Subjects: Sports, Movie Reviews, Lessons in Life, Jobs and Careers, and Internet Marketing. My intention is to inform, educate, delight and motivate you the reader.
Read my movie reviews on Captain Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl", "Pirates of the Caribbean: "Dead Man's Chest" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End". Johnny Depp is the perfect pirate.
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