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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.
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The script, based on the novel, is brought to life superbly and the Canadian locations lend authenticity to this story of early Jesuit missionaries in what was then New France -- how the priests ("Black Robes") changed Indian society and were in turn changed. Father LaForgue is an isolated figure in a strange, new world full of menace and unknown challenges. His Huron companions regard him as an inscrutable, possibly dangerous outsider. And both move in fear of their mutual enemies, the Iroquois. The tale of Father LaForgue's journey from the fringes of French settlement into the heart of Indian territory is a quest of sorts, one that presents constant peril. At the end lies the possibility of redemption -- but at a price. And for the Indians, their world is changed forever, one way or another.
There are no stock characters here -- the priests are neither saints nor rabid fanatics, the Indians are neither noble savages nor demonic villains (altho' the Iroquois, hereditary enemies of the Hurons as they are, come close to the latter). People are portrayed realistically, as a mix of good and bad, motivated in turn by faith, fear, lust, greed, or selflessness. A carefully crafted film with excellent performances, graceful direction, and a lyrical, evocative score by the great Georges Delerue (one of his last soundtracks). Five stars!
PS: New movie "The Silence" looks to owe a debt to this earlier exploration of a similar topic.
My player does not support 50i, I get audio, but no video.
It is a historical film depicting the time period in an understated, by today's standards, manner, sort of like the art of Andrew Wyeth in appearance. It is an apt metaphor of culture clash and also delves into personal struggles with values.
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