The Mission

“A surgeon to save the body must often hack off a limb. But in truth nothing could prepare me for the beauty and the power of the limb that I had come here to sever.” — Altamirano

Bringing in an Oscar for best cinematography, Golden Globes and awards from the Cannes Film Festival and others, the Mission delivers. Well, it did in 1986 anyway. The story sounded interesting and it had one of my favorite actors, Liam Neeson, albeit in a small role at the beginning of his movie career. Oh yeah, it had Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons too.

So the cinematography was really good. The setting is 18th century South America. Enter the Jesuits and slave traders from Spain and Portugal, and conflict ensues. Roland Joffe’ brings this conflict home. It’s a classic thought-provoker, although I admit that I was often distracted by the angles, special effects and acting. 1986 seems to be in that uncomfortable transition between trying to do things on screen and actually being able to do them. I guess I say one too many rubber dummies falling down the waterfall.

So back to the movie – the locations were amazing! It’s the true story of Rodrigo Mendoza and Father Gabriel’s attempts to bring Christianity and peace to the natives of the new world. I can’t imagine that the natives were played by extras, which makes this film quite remarkable. In the end I am left feeling embarrassed by our own history and wondering how it is that we manage to make such grandly-poor decisions.

I give it 5 stars

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