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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 <email@example.com>
Director Bruce Beresford has said of this film in an interview with 'Signet' magazine published on the 7th December 1991: "It was my idea to make the movie. No one approached me about the film. I read the novel when I was passing through Los Angeles in 1985. I had always been a great admirer of Brian Moore' s novels. This is a historical novel quite unlike his others. It struck me for a lot of reasons. One was simply the novelty of it. I knew nothing whatever about pioneer life in Canada in the 17th century and suddenly to read this story about these insanely savage Indians and these brave, courageous French voyagers trying to colonise them was very striking. In particular the priest, Laforgue, was significant, trying to convert the Indians to Christianity and baptise them. He travelled right across the known world to try to convince the Indians that they're living their lives all wrong because they've got to go to this place, heaven, which doesn't even exist. Looking back from the 20th century, this seems, in many ways, a mad thing to do. But they had their own approach to the world worked out and in terms of 17th century views, they thought they were doing the Indians a great favour. It is fascinating that someone's faith could be so strong. What interested me really about Black Robe (1991), apart from the fact that it's a great story, is that clash between the European and the native American cultures. Period films are always hard to do. The further back in history you go, the harder it is. Everything changes - the look, the manners, the thinking, everything. You have to understand the way someone like Laforgue thought. He had an obsession with getting everyone into heaven, a concept which few people these days take seriously. My job is to convince the audience that this is important . . . I think that, even if you have no religious faith whatever or, even if you despised the Jesuits, you would still find it an interesting story. It's a wonderful study of obsession and love. And it is a wonderful adventure of the spirit and of the body. What those people did, going to a country where winters were far more severe than anything they had known in Europe, meeting people who were far more fierce than anyone they had ever encountered . . . Having to deal with these people shows us something of humanity at its greatest. It's the equivalent of today's people getting into space shuttles and going off into space. It takes unbelievable courage to do this". See more »
Fr. Laforgue is seen baptizing with saliva. Saliva is not valid matter for baptism and no 17th century Jesuit, who knew their theology very well, would have baptized with saliva. He could have melted the snow to obtain some water. See more »
A dream is real. It must be obeyed.
We will do as she asks. What can we say to people who think that dreams are the real world; this one is an illusion. Perhaps they're right.
Farewell, Father Laforgue.
No farewells. Not in this land. And no greetings, no names. The forests speak. The dead talk at night. God bless you both.
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One of the Finest Portrayals of American Indians in the Movies
This film is brilliant, because it defies conventional stereotypes of European settlers and American Indians. This movie strives and succeeds in its portrayal of Indians and whites as human beings, rather than as villains or saints. Those who feel this movie would show the Indians as noble savages will be gravelly disappointed. The Indians in "Black Robe" can be cruel, and have sexual mores that would disgust the more prudish viewers. The affect of the Jesuit missionaries among the Indians of Quebec is not romanticized or glossed over, nor are the Jesuits shown as evil white devils. All humans in this movie have their flaws and weaknesses and all act "morally" according to their own cultures' expectations. Beresford has crafted a marvelous film that ought to be required viewing in college history courses across the country.
The cinematography is beautiful, whether we are watching the gilded altars of the cathedrals of Renaissance France, the iridescent glow of a fire at an Indian village, the cramped quarters of an Indian longhouse, or the awesome and heavenly magnificence of the Canadian woodlands and what appears to be the St. Lawrance River. This movie does feature explicit sexual acts and gruesome violence, so I would not recommend this movie at all for very young children. I think most teenagers can handle this film. I suppose this film is very hard to find at your local video rental store, but do yourselves a favor and find it. Your efforts will be amply rewarded.
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