Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Mission

Based on a true story of Jesuit missionaries in South America, The Mission tells the tale of Rodrigo Mendoza and Father Gabriel. Rodrigo is a former slave trader who slays his brother in a fit of jealousy and eventually, through the efforts of Father Gabriel and the mission he started becomes a Jesuit priest himself. Father Gabriel is dedicated to improving the lives of the Indians in the area both by showing them God and keeping them from being kidnapped or traded as slaves.

The Mission is a movie that has been recommended to me for years and I only just now got around to netflixing it. I am glad that I did. It is a visually, artistically and thematically beautiful movie that I think any cinema buff should see. There is not a bad characteristic to this movie from the performances and direction to the scenery – everything is incredibly well put together and marvelous to behold. The Mission is a film made by a director that knows what he’s saying and how he needs to accomplish it, something that is always a great thing to watch.

If there were any flaw in The Mission it would have to be that it is one of those movies that feels long. At only a hair over two hours, the actual running time is not long, but when you watch the film you feel like you are living with these characters at the mission and it feels like you are spending a great amount of time inside it. I was quite shocked to see the actual running time of the film.

Over the past decade or so I’ve watched Robert DeNiro in everything from Meet the Parents to Taxi Driver and I have to say that The Mission was the first time I have seen him in a period piece, or doing a serious role where he is not an insane character. I know I have many more DeNiro films to watch but I do adore this man’s talent and love to watch him work. He fit better in this world of God and Indians that I thought he would, and as always he meshed very well with his fellow actors.

I don’t know if The Mission would be added to my DVD collection, but it is a film that I am glad is now in my film vocabulary.

Director: Roland Joffe
Writer: Robert Bolt
Rodrigo Mendoza: Robert De Niro
Father Gabriel: Jeremy Irons
Fielding: Liam Neeson

Gabriel: If might is right, then love has no place in the world. It may be so, it may be so. But I don't have the strength to live in a world like that, Rodrigo.

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