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

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
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:

| | | |

Release Date:

4 October 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Robe - Am Fluß der Irokesen  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$8,211,952 (USA)
 »

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

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 »

Goofs

Chomina, left behind to die, says to the priest: an Algonquin word translated as "go", then "Black Robe", and the first word again. The subtitles, added here as to any Algonquin dialogue, substitute "my friend" for "Black Robe". This considerable shift in meaning, added in translation, is not compatible with the character. See more »

Quotes

Chomina: Tell me, Blackrobe, what does your dream say now?
Father Laforgue: I am too weary for dreams.
Chomina: You must. If you do not, how do you see the way ahead?
Father Laforgue: Put my trust in God. He will guide me all the way to paradise.
Chomina: But you have not seen this paradise. No man should welcome death. This world is a cruel place, but it is the sunlight. I am sorry I leave now.
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Connections

Spoofed in Almost Heroes (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beautifully Filmed, Memorably Told
29 May 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Wow, what a fascinating movie and different kind of film. One really can't get the full impact of this through a review. Anyone who has seen this, I think would agree with me on that.

If I had skipped over the credits and someone had told me Terrence Malick (Days Of Heaven, The New World, The Thin Red Line and Badlands) and directed this film, I would have believed it. Visually, this is his kind of film. I wonder if this movie inspired parts of his latest effort, The New World? There are a number of similarities. Black Robe has the same kind of beautiful and haunting images Malick's films possess but the director in this case is Bruce Bereford, the man who directed Driving Miss Daisy a couple of years before doing this film. DMD also is beautifully-filmed.

Black Robe is not just a piece of art. As great as it is visually, this is a powerful story of a well-intentioned Jesuit priest in the early 17th century who travels to "New France" (upstate New York/French Canadian territory) attempting to convert a few area tribes to Christianity. To unbelievers, that seems pushy but Biblically-speaking it is not. Jesus commanded his followers to do just that (Matt. 28:18-20) , so the priest is only doing what missionaries have done for centuries. He also is a good man, stays strong in his beliefs regardless of his own well-being and is a gentle soul. Kudos to the filmmakers for being fair to him.

The Algonquins and the Hurons are also shown with their beliefs, too, and their cultures which obviously were in contrast to the white European-based priest. All sides are shown fairly in this movie, with both positive and negative traits of all.

I was shocked at a few scenes in here, not expecting them as the film has such a gentle flow to it before anything dramatic happens. We see a few sexual scenes and then some brutal violence. The Hurons, particularly, do not want any invasion of their privacy and culture and are openly hostile to the priest and the Algonquins. The story transforms from a quiet Malick-type "New World" poetic piece to a violent, suspenseful film and the question is, will the "good guys" make it out alive?

The actors in here, perhaps, are not names most people outside Canada are familiar with, including me, but Lothaire Blueteau as Father Laforgue, Aden Young as his assistant "Daniel" and Sandrine Holt as Daniel's Algonguin lover "Anuuka" are all very, very good. All the characters in this film are very credible people, steadfast in their own beliefs and they come across as realistic people. Most films have unreal people with unrealistic dialog....but not in this movie.

Another big plus was the soundtrack: a lush, haunting score throughout.

Without spoiling the ending, or adding political/theological agendas my own, let me just add that if you enjoy a beautiful-looking movie which also has a thoughtful, haunting story with honest characters, you should check this out. Highly recommended.


44 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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One of the best soundtracks I've ever heard... Sleight-of-Hand
Black Robe in the U.S. gotee75
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Not a remake of The Robe then? The Colourful Jester
Location? gotee75
Language Sounds like Birds? katjulian16
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