Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Annals of Jesuit Cinema, Volume I.

Just finished watching The Mission along with fellow novices Mike Singhurse and Eric Styles. Directed by Roland Joffe and starring Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons, The Mission deals with the hopeful life and tragic demise of the 18th century Jesuit reductions in Paraguay. Though the film is something of a cult classic in Jesuit circles, neither Eric, Mike nor myself had ever seen it - hence our desire to see it now. The Mission plays a little fast and loose with some details of Jesuit life - for example, Jesuits are falsely described as "monks" and Robert De Niro somehow becomes a priest almost immediately after entering the Society, skipping the customary years of formation - but in a larger way it offers an affecting and highly positive portrayal of one of the Society's most famous apostolates. Not only that, the movie also features Jesuit poet and peace activist Dan Berrigan in a bit part. The Mission is sometimes compared with the much-underrated Black Robe - which happens to be one of my favorite movies - but having seen both I can now say that the two are much too dissimilar to be compared. Both hold honored places in the annals of Jesuit cinema, a topic on which much could be written, given the decent number of movies with Jesuit themes - or, at the very least, Jesuit characters. More on this later, perhaps. AMDG.


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