The Mission (Joffé, 1986)

The Mission (Roland Joffé, 1986)

I’ve had my eye on this movie as a film of faith for a while now. I finally watched it, and the end result was not as good as I had hoped. Jeremy Irons plays a Jesuit priest, living with a group of natives in South America. Robert De Niro plays an ex-slave trader, who is a converted priest. The film’s main problem is its pacing. The first half covers De Niro’s pre-monk life, and the penance/redemption that follows. Much of this section was fascinating, capped by a short, poetic voiceover reading of 1 Corinthians, accompanied by beautiful cinematography and images of the monks building relationships with the natives.

But, frankly, this should have been the entire movie. Expand and develop this section into the 2-hour run time, and it probably would have been fantastic. But this section feels rushed and De Niro’s past life is greatly underdeveloped. As a result, the second half of the film, where the colonialists move in on the mission, is also rushed. On its own, it probably would have made an interesting film as well – the philosophical battle between the priests of whether fighting and killing with the natives constitutes love or hate is intriguing. All of this together, however, is too much. There’s still a lot of good here – enough that I was glad I finally saw this.  7.25/10

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3 Responses to “The Mission (Joffé, 1986)”

  1. I enjoyed the film but was not blow away as many were — the cinematography was beautiful… So, Black Robe (1991) or The Mission?

  2. Yeah, The Black Robe is a greatly under appreciated film…

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