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.
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 <email@example.com>
The closing credits declare that the picture was "filmed on location in the Lac St Jean [Lac Saint-Jean] / Saguenay Region, Québec [in Canada] and Rouen [in Seine-Maritime], France." See more »
Chomina, left behind to die, says to the priest: an Algonquin word translated as "go," then "Black Robe," and the first word again. The subtitles, added here as to any Algonquin dialogue, substitute "my friend" for "Black Robe." This considerable shift in meaning, added in translation, is not compatible with the character. See more »
They have an afterworld of their own.
They have no concept of one.
Annuka told me they believe that in the forest at night the dead can see. The souls of men hunt the souls of animals.
Is that what she told you? It is childish, Daniel.
Is it harder to believe in than Paradise where we all sit on clouds and look at God?
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_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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