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Mission, the

Robert De Niro , Jeremy Irons , Roland Joffé    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   VHS Tape
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)

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Roland Joffé (The Killing Fields) directs this fuzzy effort at a David Lean-like epic without David Lean's sense of emotional proportion. Lean's most important screenwriting collaborator, Robert Bolt, in fact wrote The Mission, which concerns a Jesuit missionary (Jeremy Irons) who establishes a church in the hostile jungles of Brazil and then finds his work threatened by greed and political forces among his superiors. Robert De Niro is briefly effective as a callous soldier who kills his own brother and then turns to Irons's character to oversee his penance and conversion to the clergy. The narrative and dramatic forces at work in this movie should be more stirring and powerful than they are--the problem being that Joffé is too removed from them to allow us in. --Tom Keogh

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Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally Wrenching, Enchanting Film June 7 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Not for the squeamish, "The Mission" explores the duality of Europe's presence in South America -- the salvation brought by the Jesuits and the condemnation brought by "civilization."
Roland Joffe, the director, pulls few punches. The film opens with the dictation of a letter to the Pope by a prominent religious figure, Altamirano, who has just undergone the events that will transpire in the film, and we learn that these events are not pleasant: "the local savages are now free to be enslaved by his Holiness . . ."
These events "were brought about" by the horrifying martyrdom of a Jesuit priest, who had journeyed to the "uncivilized" lands of the Indians above the falls (and what falls!). The local Indians, apparently rejecting his Christian teachings, crucify him and toss him into a river . . . a river that soon flows to the falls, and the descending cross is one of the most haunting images you will ever see on film.
In response, another Jesuit priest, Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) heads above the falls, and uses his music (score by Ennio Morricone of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" fame) to win the trust of the locals. Soon he is preaching the Word of God among them.
Unfortunately, the slaver/mercenary Rodrigo Mendoza (Robert De Niro) is hunting the Indians for slavers. He ominously warns Gabriel about the futility of building a mission among the Indians, and he seizes several.
On his return to "civilization" below the falls (the dusty town stands in marked contrast to the lush greenery above the falls), Rodrigo learns that his beloved Carlotta does not love Rodrigo, but has fallen for Rodrigo's younger brother, Felipe (Aiden Quinn).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful cinematic parable March 18 2006
I may be drunk right now, but I'm adequately self-possessed to be baffled by the two dismissive foregoing reviews, even though the absence of typing and spelling skills on the part of both reviewers may say a lot about what's missing in their critiques. Also, I'm approaching my Dantean midpoint--35--and feeling increasingly(not to be self-pityingly hyperbolic) like Evelyn Waugh's Gilbert Pinfold, that beleaugured upholder of civilized values beset on all sides by crazed voices, and alone at sea. The fact is that this film is a masterpiece, moving and immense in its implications. I notice the Roman Catholic Church does not disavow it, which shows real sense and sensitivities to the nuances of its own beliefs. As movie music goes, the score is a marvel and underscores a rare cinematic feat--the presentation, through the sounds and images that Kubrick said reached deeper into the psyche than words, of that uncommon plant, that endangered species, of the spirit of 1 Corinthians 13 (referenced above and quoted in the film), cut down as it always is but subsisting gloriously for a while, and putting us all to shame while it does.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense March 30 2007
This is a true story and it is a very sad one in the history of the west and of the church.

Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson and many more take us through the history of slavers in South America. Irons, who plays a Spanish Jesuit Priest, goes into the wilderness to build a mission, to convert the Indians. DeNiro plays a slaver who eventually joins Irons’ mission and serves the native peoples.

The main question in this film is that of ownership, and the right to make slaves. The mission begins in Spanish territory that is sold to the Portuguese. The Portuguese do not want to accept that the natives are humans - but at best trained monkeys - and that their Christianity does not protect them from becoming slaves. The Cardinal who came to oversee the decision came with a decision already made, and his inner turmoil, as the narrator, draws the viewer into the political side of the decision and the political side of the church’s role in the decision, at that time, in a way that few other films ever have.

The film is a cinematographic masterpiece. While watching the movie, pay close attention to light and darkness, the music, and the angles used in filming. This movie is great and a must see because of the story it tells and the way it tells it. It is truly a film and not just a movie.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies June 2 2004
By fabiola
Format:VHS Tape
The story takes place in 1750 as the jesuits teach the Native Indians of Southern America different things to help them live off their own work, among other things. The movie reveals the cruelty with which the indigenous people were treated, but also shows how humane and capable they were of stablishing their own communities. It is a story that gets to your heart no matter how strong you are. You feel for the characters and you hate others as well. You see the frustration and the tragic destiny of the native people in a way that no other movie has done before. Culturaly wise, it opens your mind and your heart to other societies. Besides being a heart-touching story, the movie is a great historical reproduction. Without doubt, it is one of the best movies I have seen. It says a lot about humanity and it makes you question your role as an individual.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical & Emotional April 29 2004
The Mission refers to episodes in South American history usually called the 'Jesuit Reductions.' The Jesuit order was so successful in its mission effort that they almost succeeded in establishing native American nations strong enough to resist white invasion and exploitation. Something similar happened in the future USA (the Flathead Indians of western Montana) and the future Canada (the Meti). The Jesuits were attacked in Rome by their political enemies, which led to the events in the second half of the movie.
I'm a Vietnam veteran. The second half made me burst into tears in front of my amazed wife. I was surprised as much as she was. At the time I didn't realize how badly I was affected by what is now known as PTSD. This movie is a must-see for anyone who wants to wake up from the stupor of American consumer life.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great almost true story
Published 1 month ago by William A. Bolduc
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by JACQUES CORNET
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story based on history
Shows what the Portuguese empire did in South America, how they tried to reach the Rio de la Plata. If you like history and want to learn about this not so well know part of South... Read more
Published 5 months ago by ARNALDO MERINO
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Adventure
Old movie revisited. Beautiful music and a true historic event. Great agbenture beautiful scenery. Battle scenes were very realistic.and superd acting
Published 9 months ago by edward morris
1.0 out of 5 stars Great movie but defective product
I am a loyal Amazon customer for yers, but sadly have to point out this DVD is defective. I could watch th movie reading the subtitle but could not hear any sound. Read more
Published 11 months ago by W. Wu
4.0 out of 5 stars worth seeing, but far from great
That's pretty much all there is to say. Great cinematography, score, acting, etc. but there is one major flaw in my opinion: about an hour in (just as things are getting really... Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2011 by Jimbo Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe in what you do.
Fantastic movie. One that I can watch over and over which is rare for me.
The soundtrack for this movie is also supberb.
Published on June 13 2010 by Fred R. Rideout
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!!!
Both DVDs included are excellent. I had seen the original with its beautiful and haunting music in the theatre when it first came out. It is still one of my most favorite movies. Read more
Published on June 8 2009 by Helen Hamilton
4.0 out of 5 stars the beauty and the horror of the catholic church
i think tom keogh's a bit 'off' kilter and it echoes the reviews that came out when the film was released. Read more
Published on July 1 2004 by ageofanxiety
1.0 out of 5 stars This Sucks!!!!!! Very Very Sucky and Boring
I just watched this movie in Morality class and it is a really boring movie that just drags on and on. Read more
Published on June 8 2004 by justin
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