7.1/10
5,920
76 user 18 critic

Black Robe (1991)

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

Show more on IMDbPro »

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

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

Fr. Laforgue is seen baptizing with saliva. Saliva is not valid matter for baptism and no 17th century Jesuit, who knew their theology very well, would have baptized with saliva. He could have melted the snow to obtain some water. See more »

Quotes

Father Laforgue: 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.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Northern Exposure: Duets (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

Brutal but beautiful
7 January 2001 | by escolesSee all my reviews

_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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