National Treasure

National Treasure Information

National Treasure is a 2004 American adventure heist film from the Walt Disney Studios under Walt Disney Pictures. It was written by Jim Kouf, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Cormac Wibberley, and Marianne Wibberley, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and directed by Jon Turteltaub. It is the first film in the National Treasure franchise and stars Nicolas Cage.

Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, a historian and amateur cryptologist searching for a lost treasure of precious metals, jewelry, artwork and other artifacts that was accumulated into a single massive stockpile by looters and warriors over many millennia starting in Ancient Egypt, later rediscovered by warriors who form themselves into the Knights Templar to protect the treasure, eventually hidden by American Freemasons during the American Revolutionary War. A coded map on the back of the Declaration of Independence points to the location of the "national treasure", but Gates is not alone in his quest. Whoever can steal the Declaration and decode it first will find the greatest treasure in history.


Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) is a historian and amateur cryptologist, and the youngest descendant of a long line of treasure hunters. Though Ben's father, Patrick Henry Gates, tries to discourage Ben from following in the family line, as he had spent over 20 years looking for the national treasure, attracting ridicule on the family name, young Ben is encouraged onward by a clue, "The secret lies with Charlotte", from his grandfather John Adams Gates in 1974, that could lead to the fabled national treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers of the United States and Freemasons during the American Revolutionary War that was entrusted to his family by Charles Carroll of Carrollton in 1832 before his death to find, and protect the family name.

In the present, with an expedition funded and led by Ian Howe, Ben and his friend, a computer expert, Riley Poole track down a Colonial ship that is trapped in Arctic ice, the Charlotte. Aboard the ship they discover a meerschaum pipe engraved with a Knights Templar riddle that Ben connects to an invisible map written by Timothy Matlack on the back of the Declaration of Independence. When Ian reveals he will go to any lengths to find this treasure including stealing the Declaration, Ben takes a stand against him. A fight ensues, during which spilled gunpowder is ignited. Ian escapes the ship, leaving it to explode before departing with his team. Ben and Riley are trapped inside but survive the explosion by hiding in a smugglers hold, and return to the United States determined to stop Ian.

When Ben and Riley try to tell various authorities, including the FBI, and Dr. Abigail Chase at the National Archives, they dismiss their claims, considering the Declaration impossible to steal. Ben and Riley concoct their own plan to steal the Declaration during a gala event, and execute it just before Ian and his own team arrive. Abigail, suspicious of Ben's presence at the gala, becomes caught up with Ben and Riley as they escape from Ian and the authorities. Ben's identity is tracked to the theft, and they are forced to go to his father's home, much to Patrick's surprise and dismay. Ben and Abigail find an Ottendorf cipher on the back of the Declaration which, using the riddle on the pipe from the Charlotte, they connect to the Silence Dogood letters, written by Benjamin Franklin, at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Decoding the message, it points to where the Liberty Bell was, they then head to the top of Independence Hall at a specific time 2:22 where the trio find a pair of spectacles with multiple colored lenses invented by Franklin that reveal additional clues on the back of the Declaration, "Heere at the Wall." The group is caught by Ian, and even though they split up, Riley and Abigail and the Declaration are caught by Ian, while Agent Peter Sadusky captures Ben, still with the glasses.

Abigail contacts Ian to ask him to rescue Ben from the FBI in exchange for the next clue. Ian, under the guise of a prisoner exchange, lures the FBI into a trap aboard the USS Intrepid, allowing them to grab Ben. Abigail's plan to make sure that Ian will let them go after he gets the clue is undermined when Ian reveals that they also captured Patrick. Holding Riley, Abigail, and Patrick hostage, Ian forces Ben to use the bifocals and find the next clue, which leads the group to Trinity Church in New York City. Beneath the church through a secret tunnel behind the coffin of Parkington Lane they find an enormous shaft with an elevator system. When walking down the stairs the shaft began to collapse a little but manage somehow. At the bottom of the shaft, they find a room lit only by a lantern, which Ben and Patrick trick Ian into thinking that it refers to Paul Revere's Ride, and indicates the treasure to be at the Old North Church in Boston. Ian and his men strand Ben, Riley, Abigail, and Patrick as they ascend to the surface, unaware that Ben has purposely tricked them. Ben pushes a button of the unfinished pyramid the all-seeing eye on the wall and opens a secret door to an empty room. Patrick apologizes to Ben and admits himself that the treasure is real. Ben believes there's another way out to the surface and kept searching then found a strange keyhole and uses the pipe from the Charlotte to open yet another secret door to reveal the vast treasure trove, for which he has been searching his entire life, as well as a route to the surface.

When the four ascend back to the church, Ben calls in Agent Sadusky, who reveals he is part of the Freemasons. Ben and Sadusky arrange a deal: with the safe return of the Declaration and identifying where Ian and his men can be found, Sadusky will clear all of their names; the treasure will be distributed among museums throughout the world, and the Gates family and Riley will receive all the credit for the discovery. Ian is captured by the FBI at the Old North Church and charged with kidnapping, attempted murder, and trespassing on government property.

The film ends showing that Ben chose to accept from the US government only a 1% finder's fee for himself and his team despite being offered up to 10%. That is still enough to make him and his friends quite wealthy, given that Ben's estimated value of the find is US $10,000,000,000. In addition, Ben has begun a romantic relationship with Abigail and bought a mansion they will be living in. Riley complains about only getting "one stinkin' percent... Less than one percent actually, half a percent" as he climbs into a Ferrari he has purchased.


  • Annie Parisse as Agent Dawes
  • Mark Pellegrino as Agent Johnson
  • Armando Riesco as Agent Hendricks
  • Erik King as Agent Colfax
  • Don McManus as Dr. Stan Herbert
  • Ron Canada as Guard Woodruff
  • Hunter Gomez as Young Ben Gates
  • Deborah Yates as Rebecca
  • Jason Earles as Thomas Gates
  • Terrence Currier as Charles Carroll
  • Antony Alda as Guard Ferguson
  • Sam Schwab as Young Kirby
  • John Travis as Guard Mike


Filming locations

National Treasure was filmed in the following locations:

  • First Congregational Church, 540 S. Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Knott's Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park, California, USA
  • Lincoln Memorial, National Mall, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
  • Memorial Continental Hall, 1776 D Street NW, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
  • New York City, New York, USA
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Trinity Church, 79 Broadway, Financial District, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
  • USS Intrepid (CV-11), New York City, New York, USA
  • Utah, USA (Arctic scene)
  • Washington, District of Columbia, USA


Critical reception

The film received a mixed reaction from critics, some of whom lauded it as a fun, straightforward family adventure, while others ridiculed its numerous implausibilities and unbelievable plot twists. Roger Ebert gave National Treasure two stars (out of four), calling it "so silly that the Monty Python version could use the same screenplay, line for line." Academic David Bordwell has expressed a liking for the film, placing it in the tradition of 1950s Disney children's adventure movies, and using it as the basis for an essay on scene transitions in classical Hollywood cinema.

The film currently holds a 44% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Box office

The film was a box office success, grossing over $173 million domestically and $174.5 million around the world to a total of $347.5 million worldwide.

Home video releases

Collector's Edition DVD

A special collector's edition, two-disc DVD set of the movie was released on December 18, 2007.

Blu-ray Disc

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released Blu-ray Disc versions of National Treasure and its sequel, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, on May 20, 2008.



National Treasure: Book of Secrets

See National Treasure: Book of Secrets for more information Although the DVD commentary stated that there were no plans for a sequel, the film's box office gross of an unexpected $347.5 million worldwide warranted a second film, which was given the green light in 2005. National Treasure: Book of Secrets, on the DVD as National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, was released on December 21, 2007.

National Treasure 3

Director Jon Turteltaub said that the filmmaking team will take its time on another National Treasure sequel, but Disney has already registered the domains for and Though the second film ended with the question about page 47 of the President's book of secrets, Turteltaub responded in a press interview that the idea was not set in stone as the basis for National Treasure 3.

See also

  • Arnold Cipher
  • Beale ciphers
  • Nicholas Dietrich, Baron de Ottendorf
  • National Archives and Records Administration
  • National Treasure franchise
  • United States Declaration of Independence

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "National_Treasure_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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