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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>
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 »
In one of the flashbacks to France, Father Laforgue's mother says she is praying to St. Joan. However, Joan of Arc was not canonized until 1920. See more »
Lord, if it be thy wish that I suffer greater privations in the days ahead, I welcome it. Thou hast given me this cross for thy honor and for the salvation of these poor barbarians. I thank thee.
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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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