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Customer Review

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives a feeling of 'this is how it really was', September 24, 2005
This review is from: Black Robe (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.

The role of solemn ceremony in both cultures is vividly shown in some of the opening scenes - an aspect of life which has almost disappeared in today's world. There is a feeling of vast distances, and slow, hard travel into the unknown which is likewise missing in our modern world of fast transportation and globalization. We get a sense of the smallness of human beings compared to the vast forests, mountains, and rivers of 17th century North America.

Highly recommended.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 8, 2009 8:16:54 PM PDT
Outstanding review, and I need to add nothing, for your descriptions entirely summarize my feelings for this movie -- which is an absolute classic.

Posted on Nov 23, 2011 11:23:51 PM PST
A movie as outstanding as "Black Robe" deserves a review as good as this. Well done.
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