7.1/10
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75 user 18 critic
A young Jesuit priest seeks to convert the Indian tribes in Canada while also trying to survive the harsh winter.

Director:

Bruce Beresford

Writers:

Brian Moore (screenplay), Brian Moore (novel)
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10 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lothaire Bluteau ... Laforgue
Aden Young ... Daniel
Sandrine Holt ... Annuka
August Schellenberg ... Chomina
Tantoo Cardinal ... Chomina's Wife
Billy Two Rivers Billy Two Rivers ... Ougebmat
Lawrence Bayne ... Neehatin
Harrison Liu Harrison Liu ... Awondoie
Wesley Côté Wesley Côté ... Oujita
Frank Wilson ... Father Jerome
François Tassé ... Father Bourque
Jean Brousseau ... Champlain
Yvan Labelle Yvan Labelle ... Mestigoit
Raoul Max Trujillo ... Kiotseaton (as Raoul Trujillo)
James Bobbish 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Canada | Australia | USA

Language:

Cree | English | Mohawk | Algonquin | Latin

Release Date:

4 October 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Manto negro See more »

Filming Locations:

Lac Saint-Jean, Québec, Canada See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$8,211,952
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The length of the river journey was approximately 1500 miles or 2414 kilometers. 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

Father Laforgue: Lord, I beg you, show your mercy to these savage people, who will never look upon your face in Paradise.
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User Reviews

 
Significantly softened
18 December 1998 | by VarlaamSee 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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