Jeremy Irons plays a Spanish Jesuit who goes into the South American wilderness to build a mission in the hope of converting the Indians of the region. Robert DeNiro plays a slave hunter who is converted and joins Irons in his mission. When Spain sells the colony to Portugal, they are forced to defend all they have built against the Portuguese aggressors. Written by
The film was made and released about 236 years after events associated with 'The Treaty of Madrid' aka 'The Spanish-Portuguese Treaty' occurred in 1750 where the European country of Spain seceded part of the Jesuit South American country of Paraguay to its neighboring European country of Portugal. See more »
Indian characters don't speak Guarani - the language of the Paraguayan Indians - but Wawnana - the language of the Colombian Indians who performed in the movie. See more »
Your Holiness, the little matter that brought me here to the furthest edge of your light on Earth is now settled. The Indians are once more free to be enslaved by the Spanish and Portuguese settlers. I don't think that's hitting the right note. Begin again... Your Holiness, I write to you in this year of Our Lord 1758 from the southern continent of the Americas, from the town of Asunción, in the Province of La Plata, two weeks march from the great mission of San Miguel. These ...
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At the film's very end, after the final credits, Altimarano gives the audience an ambiguous, almost accusing look, as if he were asking it, "Would you or would you not have done this?" See more »
I found myself emotionally devastated after seeing this film the first time. The film packs a punch in its contrast between the beauty of nature and human self-sacrifice on the one hand and the depths of human self-interest and ruthlessness on the other. Its theme is as relevant today as it was in the 1600s - what are the consequences of my actions, and what price must be paid by me and by others as a result? The film depicts several characters with whose choices the viewer can identify - the missionary, the repentant killer, the papal legate - and gives no easy answers to the choices that confront them. But the fact that there are no easy answers doesn't let them off the hook. In the end, they all have to take responsibility for what they do or fail to do.
The magnificent visuals of the Iguassu Falls and the moving score by Morricone (surely his best) all contribute to an unforgettable picture.
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