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
Top Customer Reviews
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).Read more ›
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
One of my favourite all time films......so much to be learned from the lessons in it.Published 9 days ago by cate
I would never get tired of watching this movie no matter how old it is,Published 1 month ago by Trek Fan.....
Excellent film historique qui raconte l'histoire des missions jésuites en Amérique du Sud. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Lucie Boutet
A must-see film that tells a story of colonization with a lot of its trauma portrayed realistically.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer