The story of Captain Richard Francis Burton's and Lt. John Hanning Speke's expedition to find the source of the Nile river in the name of Queen Victoria's British Empire. The film tells the... See full summary »
Richard E. Grant
A dramatized biography of William Tyndale, the 16th Century reformer determined to translate the Bible into English, which illegal act set him at odds with the Catholic Church, Sir Thomas More and King Henry VIII.
Charleston, South Carolina. The Odoms have lived a life of the traditions of the American south in their longtime, large family beach front home. That tradition is turned upside down when ... See full summary »
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 »
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, why is Fr. Jerome with you in Heaven, while Chomina lies forever in utter darkness? Help me.
See more »
This exquisitely photographed film portrays the cultural clash between Europeans (in this case the Europeans happen to be French) and various native tribes in seventeenth century North America without romanticizing either French culture or that of the native peoples.
Perhaps the most striking feature of this film from my perspective was utter arrogance of the Europeans to come into a wild country presuming the superiority of their way of life over that of the indigenous peoples. No character seemed to understand that better than Father LaForgue, admirably portrayed by Lothaire Bluteau. The good Father soldiers on despite the evidence that his presence in the vast wilderness of North America won't make a whit of difference in his life or in the lives of the people he has vowed to introduce into "paradise." The Algonquin guides worry about their attachment to the "demon" LaForgue and wonder whether they shouldn't just kill him. Even LaForgue's young assistant, Daniel, wonders how the presence of a French missionary makes the the native people's lives any better. The Iroquois, who suffer from a harsh depiction in the film, take a more economically-based view of LaForgue -- he and Daniel are seen by the Iroquois as currency to be exchanged for guns.
An aside concerning the Iroquois. While the violence depicted in the film is no doubt accurate, what the film does not reveal is that the Iroquois likely became decidedly more hostile when the French began to assist old enemies, such as the Algonquin, in traveling into hunting grounds that had previously been Iroquois territory.
But back to LaForgue, whose journey is the primary emphasis of the film. He has journeyed, apparently from a life of some privilege in France, leaving behind a doting mother and (perhaps) a beautiful young woman. He has journeyed away from the "pleasures of the flesh," lingering on the sight of a couple making love in the communal tipi and later admitting to Daniel that he, LaForgue, lusts after the young Alogonquin woman,Annuka, with whom Daniel had already struck up a sexual relationship. He gets lost on the journey in the cathedral-like forest and rejoices and being found by Algonquin hunters, who express some bemusement that the Black Robe got lost in the first place. Finally, he journeys to the Hurons and a village beset by smallpox, where baptism has been sold to the natives as a miracle cure as much as it has a key to salvation.
By avoiding the tendency of films depicting Native American life to romanticize, Bruce Beresford has captured more profoundly the daily harsh realities of life for the peoples inhabiting the northeastern portion of North America at the arrivals of the first trickling of Europeans. Neither way of life is ultimately depicted as superior to the other: each simply is. This is not a "feel-good" film. Instead it is a realistic, thought-provoking tale of a journey of a man, of cultures, and of life itself. Simply a brilliant film.
62 of 65 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?