It is May 1520 in the vast Aztec Empire one year after the Spanish Conqueror Hernán Cortés' arrival in Mexico. "The Other Conquest" opens with the infamous massacre of the Aztecs at the ... See full summary »
José Carlos Rodríguez,
In 1923 British Colonial Nigeria, Mister Johnson is an oddity -- an educated black man who doesn't really fit in with the natives or the British. He works for the local British magistrate, ... See full summary »
The year is 1952, in Quebec City. Rachel, 16, unmarried, and pregnant, works in the church. Filled with shame, she unburdens her guilt to a young priest, under the confidentiality of the ... See full summary »
Tenuously based on the legends of Easter Island, Chile, this story details a civil war between the two tribes on the island: the Long Ears and the Short Ears. A warrior from the ruling ... See full summary »
Jason Scott Lee,
In the 17th century a Jesuit priest and a young companion are escorted through the wilderness of Quebec by Algonquin Indians to find a distant mission in the dead of winter. The Jesuit experiences a spiritual journey while his young companion falls in love with the Algonquin chief's beautiful daughter underneath the imposing and magnificent mountains. Dread and death follows them upriver. Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This movie was filmed "in sequence", that is to say, all of the scenes were filmed in the order in which they appear on the screen. See more »
The French characters all speak English. This would normally be overlooked as a conventional dramatic device, were it not for the fact that subtitles are used for the Native Americans. See more »
[watching LaForgue give the last rites to a dying baby]
Watch this, he is going to cast a spell.
Oh God of mercy, please bless this innocent child...
No. He is talking to his God.
[making the sign of the cross]
... in nomini patri et fili et spiritu sancti...
See that sign? That's how they steal our spirit.
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_Black Robe_ is an under-appreciated gem. With fine acting, a strong, literate screenplay, beautiful visuals from the spare, cold Canadian wilderness, and a lyrical, dialogue-light storytelling style, this film is an absorbing experience. Viewers with less patience for visual storytelling, or who don't like having to pay attention to details, will probably find it slow-going.
Be forewarned: _Black Robe_ is a brutal film, by modern western standards. Gruesome torture is openly referred to; native americans, particularly the northern Mohawk and Huron peoples, are _not_ substantially idealized.
Nice ethnographic touches are preserved -- for example, the Alqonkian-speaking group who agree to guide the Black Robe are permitted to clearly express their perplexity at the Jesuit's rudeness for not sharing his tobacco. Similarly, a Mohawk war-leader keenly sees opportunity in permitting the French to live: they can be traded for muskets, and forced to teach the Mohawk how to use the powerful new weapons. No "simple savages", after all: The Iroquois did not come to control much of the northeast through stupidity.
While widely excoriated by some native american advocates for its depiction of Mohawk and Huron brutality, the film actually soft-pedals the reality (as noted by other reviewers). The southern, Five-Nations Mohawk may have abandoned ritual cannibalism by this time, but it's certain that ritual torture and cannibalism were practiced throughout the Iroquois sphere of influence up to the early contact period. It was an aspect of their culture, and really no stranger than similar practices as recorded among christianized Scandinavians circa 1060 AD.
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