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Black Robe (1991)

R  |   |  Adventure, Drama, History  |  4 October 1991 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 5,108 users  
Reviews: 69 user | 17 critic

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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Title: Black Robe (1991)

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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
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:

| |

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

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

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 »

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.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Almost Heroes (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Significantly softened
18 December 1998 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

This film made major concessions to political correctness in its portrayal of the Indians, who are depicted in a considerably more flattering light here than they are in Brian Moore's novel. This could also be considered the romanticizing "Dances With Wolves" effect. The novel drew some (unjust) criticism here in Canada for its uncompromising approach.

The actual history is fairly readily available. "The Jesuits in North America in the 17th Century" by the great American historian Francis Parkman is the standard 19th c. work on the proselytizing efforts of the French Récollet and Jesuit fathers.

Still, if you are not very familiar with the subject, this film is a strong, and quite gruesome, introduction. I'm not aware of a lot of films about the colonial period which are as tough. Not "Last of the Mohicans", or the adult westerns from the '50's, in my opinion. "Little Big Man", perhaps. Or possibly "A Man Called Horse", which I haven't seen. The priest in the story is a composite of actual missionaries, and the impact of this historical adventure thriller is heightened for me knowing that everything in this film happened, and often a whole lot worse.

The rights and wrongs, the pros and cons, of the cultural collision of Europeans with the autochthonous peoples are still too contentious, so I would rather not get into them. There is a lot here to brood about afterwards, and chances are good that you'll seek out a copy of the novel -- it's not very long, and a lot easier to read than James Fenimore Cooper. If you're American or Canadian, this is an important part of our shared past.

"Black Robe" is one of the very best Canadian feature films, with a solid cast led by Lothaire Bluteau with August Schellenberg and Tantoo Cardinal in support. The presence of an Australian director, Bruce Beresford, perhaps kept the film from turning into a well-meaning but dry Canadian history lesson.


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