A young Jesuit priest seeks to convert the Indian tribes in Canada while also trying to survive the harsh winter.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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ON DISC
10 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
Daniel
...
...
...
Chomina's Wife
Billy Two Rivers ...
Ougebmat
Lawrence Bayne ...
Neehatin
Harrison Liu ...
Awondoie
Wesley Côté ...
Oujita
Frank Wilson ...
Father Jerome
François Tassé ...
Jean Brousseau ...
Yvan Labelle ...
Mestigoit
...
Kiotseaton (as Raoul Trujillo)
James Bobbish ...
Ondesson
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Storyline

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 <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for areas of strong violence and sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

4 October 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Robe - Am Fluß der Irokesen  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Gross:

$8,211,952 (USA)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It took over four years to find financing for the film. No American studio was interested in doing it because it was about religion, so eventually the finance was drummed up from European and Canadian sources. Even with Oscar nominee Bruce Beresford expressing a desire to be at the helm, the Canadian investors were still very hard to convince until Beresford's previous film, Driving Miss Daisy (1989), won the 1989 Oscar for Best Film. The success of Dances with Wolves (1990) was also instrumental in helping the film to get made. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Frenchman 1: Look at him, dressed like a savage chieftain. We're not colonizing the Indians; they're colonizing us.
Frenchman 2: Not me they're not. I'm not becoming one of those wild woodsmen. In one more year, I'm going back to France.
Father Laforgue: Are you? Are any of us? If the winter doesn't kill us, the Indians might. If they don't, it could be the English. So keep your faith, and may death find you with God in mind.
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User Reviews

Brutal but beautiful
7 January 2001 | by (rochester ny usa) – See all my reviews

_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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