Books and Movies Reviews

Black Robe – Movie Review

“Black Robe” is a movie that tells the story of thefirst contacts between the Huron Indians of Quebec and the Jesuit missionaries from France who came to convert them to Catholicism, but ended up delivering the Indians into the hands of their enemies. The Jesuits saw the “Savages”, as they called them, as souls to be saved. The natives saw the Black Robes, as they called them, as destroyers and “demons” threatening the gods and sorceries, which ordered their lives. Out of that, a big conflict between two cultures is shown. Those first brave Jesuit priests did not realize that it was not the right thing to do, because a burning faith and an absolute conviction drove them. Only much later it was apparent that the European settlement of North America led to the destruction of the original inhabitants, not their salvation.
Father LaForgue, a Jesuit, undertakes a long and arduous journey in winter, guided by the Algonquins, threatened by the Iroquois. It is a torturous experience, and “Black Robe” visualizes it in very realistic depictions of Indian life. Throughout the movie we can very well find details of the housing of the Indians, their methods of hunting and food procurement and the way they use absolute trust and cooperation of each other to fight against the deadly climate.
It also becomes clear that the Indians had their own religious and belief systems already in place, and that none of them had much use for Jesus and the other gifts of Christianity. This is clearly shown in a scene when the Jesuit priest is trying to explain the advantages of going to Heaven, and the Indians he is with laugh at him – the cultural context is incompatible and communication with understanding is impossible. On the other hand, for the white people it is hard to understand the brutality and torture that is part of Indian life. When Iroquois are torturing the Jesuit priest and his party, the young Frenchman says: “They are Iroquois, they are a…


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