Black Robe
Black Robe

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A young Jesuit priest seeks to convert the Indian tribes in Canada while also trying to survive the harsh winter.... (Full plot summary below)

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A young Jesuit priest seeks to convert the Indian tribes in Canada while also trying to survive the harsh winter.

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Movie Reviews

Spirituality and Practice - 8/10 by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat This compelling tale of adventure set in 17th century Canada is a spiritual classic
Ozus' World Movie Reviews - 6/10 by Dennis Schwartz A demanding film filled with complexities and meant for the discriminating viewer.
User Review - 10/10 by david t One of the best and most accurate historical fictions out there. Completely awesome!
User Review - 10/10 by Suzanne L Great movie, full of many of my relatives, and about my ancestors. This movie was just whoah.........outstanding!
User Review - 8/10 by Edith N Seeking Martyrdom in the Great White North I may very well be this film's intended audience. I know a fair amount about the historical period under consideration, and I appreciate quality cinematography. I'm willing to put up with spirituality and symbolism. I don't expect a happy ending from this kind of story--or indeed an ending. Roger says it seems, with the addition of the title card at the end, to be a prelude to nothing, and the fact is, he's right. Which I thought was rather the point. I don't think people are really aware of the horrific attrition rate suffered by pretty much everyone in the early days of European colonization in the Americas. It's estimated that ninety percent of the native population died of disease, generally smallpox, after colonization. But what people may not realize is that the Europeans basically seemed to go to the New World to die. Only fifty-three passengers of the [i]Mayflower[/i] celebrated that first Thanksgiving, including only four adult women. One of the things the Europeans were doing in the New World was Converting the Heathen, generally whether they wanted to convert or not. Young Jesuit Father LaForgue (Lothaire Bluteau) is being sent from Quebec to a mission to the Huron, deep in the wilderness. He is being led there by a group of Algonquin. Their leader, Chomina (August Schellenberg), takes his wife (Tantoo Cardinal) and daughter, Annuka (Sandrine Holt), along, and Daniel (Aden Young) goes along with Father LaForgue. Daniel and Annuka fall in love. We learn that LaForgue's mother (Marthe Turgeon) believes that he will be martyred in the wilderness. Chomina is having dreams of his people dead and the Black Robe walking alone. His wife tells him that he should trust his dreams. The shaman of another tribe encourages him to leave the white men to die, and Chomina reluctantly goes along. But when Daniel abandons LaForgue to seek out Annuka, Chomina's guilt sends him back to get LaForgue, which doesn't turn out to be the best decision for him. I have to admit that I took perhaps a little too much pride in spotting the anachronism in this movie, and that's where my Catholic background comes in. LaForgue's mother is shown in flashback praying before he leaves for New France. She asks her son the priest to pray for her; so far, so good. But he comes across her praying before a statue of "Saint Joan." Except she wasn't, yet. She wasn't canonized until 1920. This is in theory not that big a deal, and I'm pretty sure the rest of the movie is better researched. However, Saint Denis would have been more accurate, or maybe Saint Martin of Tours. Saint Denis would have been better, though, because he was also martyred. On the other hand, the average modern audience who wasn't raised Catholic--or, presumably, French--wouldn't necessarily realize that Joan wasn't a saint yet and probably wouldn't have heard of Denis. As it happens, the patron saint of Canada, Saint Jean de Brébeuf, was a martyred Jesuit. During the events alluded to at the end of the film, in fact. I'd even argue that his death manages to validate some of the violence in this movie, which Mohawk groups have complained about. It's true that the Mohawk are the Bad Guys. It's also true that they would not have been likely to kill Chomina's son, whose name I missed, since he was young enough to have been adopted instead. Likewise, burning Annuka at the stake seems unlikely. They adopted women, too. However, the Iroquois did battle the Huron. I've little doubt that a movie shown from the Mohawk perspective wouldn't exactly paint the Huron in the best of lights, either. And honestly, you could pretty much pick any group in the Americas at that time and write one story which showed them as slaughtered and one which showed them as slaughterers. If Chomina and his men had gotten any of those Mohawk home, it would not have ended with Algonquins seeing the She-Manitou (LinLyn Lue). Canada in the winter, even relatively southern Canada, isn't exactly a place of warmth and golden light. However, neither is the soul of Father LaForgue. Chomina tells him that he should not wish for death, though I think that's at least in part because he thinks LaForgue's Paradise sounds very boring. As it happens, it does to young Daniel as well. The two men seem to represent differing perspectives on the natives from the European settlers. Daniel sees their lives as being mostly peaceful, the kind of One With the Land image which has come down to us through the centuries. LaForgue wants to shape the natives' lives in the Europeans' image. He really does believe that they are ruled by the Devil, that only by accepting Jesus as their one God can they be saved from the fires of Hell. But that also means that their entire way of life, which is opposed to the Bible's teachings, must be changed. That, as much as disease, is what spelled doom for many converts.
User Review - 8/10 by Shazza L OMG haha rent it and see what I looked like when I was 7 years old !!!
User Review - 8/10 by meg r My first intro to Lothaire Bluteau, best known for BENT.
User Review - 8/10 by Mark W Very realistic portrayal of French Jesuits attempt at converting the Native people of Eastern Canada. Felt like I was actually watching impossible real footage from the time. Dark, violent and shows how harsh survival was in the winters of the Canadian wilderness. Very well done.
User Review - 8/10 by Jayakrishnan R 77% Saw this on 1/12/15 The historical film is well shot and uses unseen locales for it's better use. It does justice to it's subject matter by giving a detailed and thorough description of the life of the Red Indians in Canada. It's at times haunting and cerebral and it's well acted. However, it could have packed some more punch why trying to establish it's points.
User Review - 8/10 by Guy G [85/B+] This is a dour but majestic and clear-eyed look at the settling of Canada, through the missionary activities of French Jesuits. The title character, an idealistic and inflexible priest, finely played by Bluteau, is guided by Native allies on a religious mission from Samuel de Champlain`s little settlement of Quebec into the grim, resplendent, forested expanses of the Canadian wilderness, where few (if any) white men have dared to pass, and where Indian peoples still hold sway. The harshness and beauty of the landscape is powerfully evoked, manifesting a sullen, unforgiving presence that is almost a character in its own right. It becomes one of the primary challenges facing the Black Robe, not only in terms of physical negotiation, but through its emanated spirits of coldness and futility, which he interprets as filling the souls of the indigenous peoples, too, who are stubbornly and impractically resistant to his civilizing mission. Wracked with doubt and misunderstanding of the Natives` ways, his courageous efforts prove ultimately futile and senseless, even helping destroy the Algonquins who had loyally aided him, as well as the Hurons he had been sent to save spiritually. This kind of Catholic heart of darkness may be familiar to many from other movies and tales, and it`s brought to life very well here, illustrating with deft touches the role such sadly misguided projects played in the founding of the European New World. But what BLACK ROBE really excels at is its raw, intelligent, and unsentimental depiction of the Natives whose world and souls (and resources) were so coveted to begin with. It`s their points of view, their civilization and precarious circumstances, at a time when they still held the upper hand over white men, that make this a movie quite unlike any other.
User Review - 8/10 by Allen B Its been many years since I watched this one, but I enjoyed it at the time. Depicts the tragically destructive collision of two cultures where neither side set out to destroy the other.
User Review - 8/10 by Justbe R Christianity on trial... and tested. Great movie.

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