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>
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 »
Near the end, Father LaForgue digs a grave fairly easily with only a shovel in what would clearly have been frozen ground in the dead of winter. See more »
Fifteen years later, the Hurons, having accepted Christianity, were routed and killed by their enemies, the Iroquois.
The Jesuit mission to the Hurons was abandoned and the Jesuits returned to Quebec.
See more »
When averaging, extreme scores skew the result. So I wonder at the motives of those who voted "1" for this film. Sabotage?
"Black Robe" invites comparison with "Aguirre, the Wrath of God," another masterpiece. Two great directors project their vision of two different men who do something we in this "civilized" culture can hardly imagine: plunge into a vast, unknown, alien world. And ultimately into oblivion.
The motivation, the source of courage, is faith, on one hand, and hubris on the other. Watch both examples. Though we can easily discern the noble from the base, we experience equally powerful stories. Here is a chance to see juxtaposed two profoundly different outlooks subjected to a common ordeal. What a wonderful, terrifying, soul-shaking thing to witness!
25 of 27 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?