Thursday, April 24, 2008

Essential Cinema - 25

The Mission

Robert De Niro
Jeremy Irons
Ray McAnally
Aidan Quinn
Cherie Lunghi
Ronald Pickup
Chuck Low
Liam Neeson

Roland Joffé

Robert Bolt

Chris Menges

Jesuit missionaries struggle to build and protect a mission in the Amazon jungle during the late 1700s.

Often times, good does not triumph over evil. But it is still worth the struggle.

This is a very good film. It won the Grand Prize at Cannes and also won an Oscar for best cinematography for obvious reasons. According to the opening credits the story depicted in this film actually happened.

The acting in this film is somewhat low key with the story and the scenery taking center stage. Having watched this film several years ago, I was struck by my slightly different perspective after this viewing.

The real focus is the turmoil and suffering of the Viceroy that is sent to administer the will of the king and not the fate of the native peoples or the Jesuits that are sent to show them salvation. The Viceroy, played by Ray McAnally, gives the best performance in the film as the ex-Jesuit Priest who now obeys the king and not the teachings of the church. In the end he is a shattered man, having done his duty against his better judgment.

This film is about the difference between doing what is right and doing what you are told. The struggle we all have between being obidiant or following our heart. This is a dilemma we all must face at least once in our lives.

The mercenaries and profiters try and comfort the Viceroy at the end of the picture by reaffirming that, "This is the way it has to be. So is the world made." To which the Viceroy responds, "No, So have we made the world." Even after 300 years, somethings never change. That is why this film still carries such profound meaning.