National Treasure is a 2004 adventure film from The Walt Disney Company under Walt Disney Pictures 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, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, and Christopher Plummer. Cage plays Benjamin Gates, an historian and amateur cryptologist searching for a lost treasure, once protected by the Knights Templar and hidden by the Freemasons during the early years of the United States. A coded map on the back of the Declaration of Independence points to the location of the "national treasure", but Gates isn't alone in his quest. Whomever can steal the Declaration and decode it first, will find the greatest treasure in history.
Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) is an historian and amateur cryptologist with a mechanical engineering degree from MIT and an American history degree from Georgetown. He comes from a long line of treasure hunters that believe in the legend of a fantastic treasure trove of artifacts and gold, hidden by the Founding Fathers of the United States, and forgotten to all but a few. The first clue was given to Ben's great great great great grandfather Thomas Gates (Jason Earles) in 1832 by Charles Carroll, the last living member of the Second Continental Congress, saying, "The secret lies with Charlotte." Ben is given this clue in 1974 by his grandfather, John Adams Gates (Christopher Plummer). Though John is too old to search anymore and his son and Ben's father as well as fellow treasure hunter, Patrick Henry Gates (Jon Voight), has stopped believing in the legend, Ben swears that he will take up the Gates family quest.
30 years later, using computerized arctic weather models, Ben, with his friend Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and financier Ian Howe (Sean Bean), finds the wreckage of a Colonial ship, the Charlotte, containing a meerschaum pipe engraved with a riddle. After examining the riddle, Ben deduces that the next clue is on the back of the Declaration of Independence. While Ben sees gaining access to such a highly guarded artifact as an obstacle, Ian finds no problem in stealing it (he says he only wants to "borrow" it). This results in a standoff, during which the ship's gunpowder is accidentally ignited. Ian and his assistant Shaw escape and the Charlotte explodes with Ben and Riley hiding inside a smuggler's hold. After Ian rides off in their snowcats, Ben and Riley escape the Arctic as they walk to an Inuit village not far and take a flight back home.
Ben and Riley attempt to warn the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., but no one takes them seriously, believing the Declaration of Independence to be too heavily guarded to be under any threat. Ben thinks otherwise, and decides to steal it to keep it from Ian. Ben and Riley manage to steal the Declaration during a 70th anniversary gala, just before Ian arrives. Dr. Chase sees Ben with the Declaration and is tricked by him to take a replica that he just bought, but she is kidnapped by Ian, who thinks she has the real declaration, and Ben and Riley have to engage in a van chase to rescue her. Ian gets the Declaration, but then discovers that he took the replica. As Dr. Chase will not leave without the Declaration, and Ben will not let her leave with it, she is forced to go along with them.
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Official Site: Walt Disney Pictures
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