Reviewed by: Paul
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons, Ray McAnally, Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Ronald Pickup | Director: Roland Joffé—“The Killing Fields” (1984), “The Scarlet Letter” (1995) | Producers: Fernando Ghia, David Puttnam, Alejandro Azzano, Felipe López Caballero, Iain Smith | Writer: Robert Bolt | Released By: Warner Bros.
If you are looking for a fascinating portrayal of historical Christian faith and missions during the centuries past, “The Mission” is it (though not a “Christian” production itself). With that said, be warned that this strong film is not for all—it clearly is for a mature teen to adult audience. One factor that raises its interest even more is the truth behind this story. The principal characters are of the Jesuit order of Christianity.
“The Mission” is set in 1750 South America during the time of Spanish and Portuguese colonization. A group of Jesuit priests travel across the seas in an attempt to spread the Word of God (and basically to get along) among the unreached tribes. The lead is Gabriel (Jeremy Irons), who doesn’t have long to wait before His first encounter with slave traders. Rodrigo (De Niro) is a trader who seeks redemption and becomes a Jesuit. Between them, they try to intercede for the tribe when there is a legal dispute over their future.
Both sides in the dispute are using the name of God as a basis for their argument, mostly for personal gain. The movie builds up to a decision about the welfare of the tribe and explores how both sides react to it.
Some Christians may take offense at the nudity present (non-sexual, realistic portrayal of the indigenous people ala National Geographic fare). Perhaps most offensive is the violence, which is abundant especially in one scene. If these can be overcome, the different views of God and choices made on behalf of an entire people will lead to many eternal questions.
For mature audiences only.