7.1/10
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Black Robe (1991)

In the 17th century, a Jesuit missionary nicknamed Black Robe by the natives and his small party of companions try reaching the Huron tribe in Canada all while facing mistrust, Iroquois warring parties and harsh winter conditions.

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 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 nicknamed Black Robe by the natives and his young companion are escorted through the wilderness of Quebec by a family of Algonquin Indians to find a distant mission in the dead of winter. Underneath the imposing and magnificent mountains, the Jesuit experiences a spiritual journey while his young companion falls in love with their Algonquin guide's beautiful daughter. Dread and death follows them upriver, however, as they face an Iroquois war party. Based on historical fiction novel. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | War

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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The ferocity of the torture scenes prompted accusations of racism from Native Americans. Prominent among the critics was Ward Churchill, who wrote an article that was heavily critical of the film. However, Brian Moore, who had done extensive research on the subject, had actually toned down the documented violence for both his book and his screenplay. See more »

Goofs

The first line of the Montagnais leader can be heard repeated during his private conversation with Chomina. See more »

Quotes

Annuka: A dream is real. It must be obeyed.
Father Laforgue: We will do as she asks. What can we say to people who think that dreams are the real world; this one is an illusion. Perhaps they're right.
Daniel: Farewell, Father Laforgue.
Father Laforgue: No farewells. Not in this land. And no greetings, no names. The forests speak. The dead talk at night. God bless you both.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Lonely Passion of Brian Moore (1986) See more »

User Reviews

 
Beautifully Filmed, Memorably Told
29 May 2006 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

Wow, what a fascinating movie and different kind of film. One really can't get the full impact of this through a review. Anyone who has seen this, I think would agree with me on that.

If I had skipped over the credits and someone had told me Terrence Malick (Days Of Heaven, The New World, The Thin Red Line and Badlands) and directed this film, I would have believed it. Visually, this is his kind of film. I wonder if this movie inspired parts of his latest effort, The New World? There are a number of similarities. Black Robe has the same kind of beautiful and haunting images Malick's films possess but the director in this case is Bruce Bereford, the man who directed Driving Miss Daisy a couple of years before doing this film. DMD also is beautifully-filmed.

Black Robe is not just a piece of art. As great as it is visually, this is a powerful story of a well-intentioned Jesuit priest in the early 17th century who travels to "New France" (upstate New York/French Canadian territory) attempting to convert a few area tribes to Christianity. To unbelievers, that seems pushy but Biblically-speaking it is not. Jesus commanded his followers to do just that (Matt. 28:18-20) , so the priest is only doing what missionaries have done for centuries. He also is a good man, stays strong in his beliefs regardless of his own well-being and is a gentle soul. Kudos to the filmmakers for being fair to him.

The Algonquins and the Hurons are also shown with their beliefs, too, and their cultures which obviously were in contrast to the white European-based priest. All sides are shown fairly in this movie, with both positive and negative traits of all.

I was shocked at a few scenes in here, not expecting them as the film has such a gentle flow to it before anything dramatic happens. We see a few sexual scenes and then some brutal violence. The Hurons, particularly, do not want any invasion of their privacy and culture and are openly hostile to the priest and the Algonquins. The story transforms from a quiet Malick-type "New World" poetic piece to a violent, suspenseful film and the question is, will the "good guys" make it out alive?

The actors in here, perhaps, are not names most people outside Canada are familiar with, including me, but Lothaire Blueteau as Father Laforgue, Aden Young as his assistant "Daniel" and Sandrine Holt as Daniel's Algonguin lover "Anuuka" are all very, very good. All the characters in this film are very credible people, steadfast in their own beliefs and they come across as realistic people. Most films have unreal people with unrealistic dialog....but not in this movie.

Another big plus was the soundtrack: a lush, haunting score throughout.

Without spoiling the ending, or adding political/theological agendas my own, let me just add that if you enjoy a beautiful-looking movie which also has a thoughtful, haunting story with honest characters, you should check this out. Highly recommended.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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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

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$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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