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Black Robe

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Editorial Reviews

From acclaimed director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Tender Mercies) and adapted by screenwriter Brian Moore from his novel of the same name, Black Robe is "amazing an adventure film that is as intelligent as it is enthralling" (US)! French Jesuit missionary Father Laforgue travels to the magnificently austere Canadian wilderness to save the souls of a "savage and godless" peoplethe native tribes of the Huron and Algonquin. But the natives, who have their own spiritual value system that differs drastically from Christianity, are immediately suspicious, resentful and openly hostile toward the intrusive "Black Robe." And when Laforgue hires a reluctant group of Algonquin to escort him on a harrowing 1500-mile journey up the broad and sinuous St. Lawrence River, a devastating chain of events not only causes him to question his deeply held beliefs but also forever changes the course of history for the natives' way of life.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Lothaire Bluteau, Aden Young, Sandrine Holt, August Schellenberg, Tantoo Cardinal
  • Directors: Bruce Beresford
  • Writers: Brian Moore
  • Producers: Brian Moore, Denis Héroux, Eric Norlen, Jake Eberts, Robert Lantos
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: July 10, 2001
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005BKZS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,052 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Black Robe" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

111 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Frank Gibbons on August 11, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This is a very moving film about the clash of two radically different cultures. The young Jesuit priest, Father LaForgue, although very rigid in his belief system, sincerely wants to help the Native Americans by bringing them the Truth. But his message of paradise has no meaning for the Alogonquins, Hurons, and other tribes that he comes into contact with. They cannot understand why he has no woman. They fear him as a demon because he reads from books and makes strange signs (of the cross). He, in turn, believes they are living in darkness and must be saved. He is fearful of the vast forests where the devil reigns. There is a great deal of complexity in the character of Chomina, the Algonquin leader who fears the Black Robe but who feels honor bound to assist him. Father LaForgue is a tragic figure, so lonely and confused in the vast expanses of 'New France'. Why is he here, so far from his mother's comfortable drawing rooms? What does he hope to accomplish? The film is beautifully shot on location. A warning to the faint-hearted: there are some gruesome scenes in the film. Black Robe is a moving, balanced film with a profound spirituality.
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70 of 70 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 1999
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
An outstanding look at what happens when cultures collide. "Black Robe" tells the story of a 17th century French Jesuit missionary sent to the Canadian wilds to proselytize among the Huron Indians. Unfolding artfully and slowly, the film explores both the questionning of and committment to his faith encountered by the priest as he gets to know his Indian guides, their culture, and their spiritual beliefs. In the film, the priest's character is juxtaposed to his young apprentice who falls in love with the daughter of their Algonquin guide and comes to a deep understanding and appreciation of their culture. Far from romanticizing and idealizing it's Native American characters, however, "Black Robe" presents them fully as rich, varied, multi-faceted individuals capable of pettiness, wisdom, loyalty, kindness, atrocity, humor, close-mindedness, and love. Likewise, the priest retains his committment to Roman Catholicism and his confusion over Native American spiritual beliefs, while coming to a profound love and respect for the individuals and the tribes he has come to serve. It is a truly remarkable film, magnificently photographed, with rich, memorable characters. It speaks clearly about the conflicting values and world views held by these two cultures without denegrating or idealizing either one. There is violence and sexual situations -- similar to what you might expect in "Braveheart." A great film!
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By MS on September 24, 2005
Format: DVD
There are remarkably few historical movies which give you the feeling of actually being in another time and place. In almost all costume dramas, however accurate the costumes and sets may be, the characters think, speak and act like people of the present day. The issues are modern issues, and the movies are colored by modern political correctness, and by romanticized and simplified views of the past.

Black Robe is a movie that makes you feel "this is how things really were." It shows both Native Americans and European settlers honestly in all their humanity and complexity. But the issues are 17th century issues, not 21st century issues. The movie is not self-concious, or preachy, or pushing a particular agenda. It's just telling a good story, and telling it very well.

This is perhaps the best and most accurate portrayal of Native Americans in any movie ever. They are shown neither as noble, politically correct, ecologically sound, wise heroes, nor as racist caricatures. They are shown as real people, and as individuals with their own personal concerns and opinions. There is no glossing over harsh living conditions, violence, brutality, torture, and superstition. But honor, loyalty, love, and closeness to nature are just as vividly present - as are doubt, deception, self-interest, and cruelty.

The French are likewise shown in a real, accurate and believable way. The narrow-mindedness of the Jesuits and their perverse desire for martyrdom are shown along with their deep sincerity and courage. Colonial attitudes and the overwhelming role of religion in 17th century culture are there, but the characters are never caricatures. Neither European nor Native American religions are denigrated, but both are shown to have their flaws as well as their values.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 2004
Format: DVD
"Black Robe" is based on a novel of the same title written by the late Brian Moore, who also wrote the film's screenplay. Moore's idea for the plot of his novel and most of the details he used within it came from the Jesuit Relations- a 17th century chronicle of the day to day events of the North American mission of the Society of Jesus. While the Relations' main purpose was to describe successful conversions, miracles, and battles fought against Satan, they are also one of the most important historical records of the lives and customs of many American Indian tribes.
The Jesuits presented a wonderful depiction of the people they were trying to convert. Some of the stories are very funny- one Algonquin hired by the Jesuits to be a translator was asked by his employers for the Algonquin words relating to spiritual and religious topics. The translator instructed them and the Jesuits rushed off to preach to the Algonquins. It was only upon being greeted by the peeling laughter of their would-be converts did the Jesuits realize that their translator had instead instructed them on Algonquin foul language.
However, the Relations also depict a very grim picture of life in the mid 17th century wilderness. Contrary to what another reviewer has written here- adoption was not guaranteed for anyone! Yes, mass adoption later become something the Iroquois practiced, but only after their numbers had been so badly dwindled in their wars of conquest in the 1650-1670's. Women, children, and the elderly could be hideously tortured to death as well as men. The movie, in fact, was edited to avoid showing the Indians practicing ritual cannibalism on that slain boy- a custom that was common among the tribes of Eastern woodlands. To devour an enemy's flesh was to devour his power.
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