Blackrobe Movie Review Essay

1043 Words Jul 11th, 2007 5 Pages
‘Black Robe' Movie Critique

‘Black Robe' is the story of a young Jesuit Priest from France who embarks on a religious journey to convert, to Christianity, the Aboriginal tribes of New France. Set primarily in Ontario during the mid 1630's, Father Lafargue travels from Quebec via the Ottawa River to the home of the Huron people in what is now referred to as the Simcoe Region of South Central Ontario. He is aided by a band of Algonquin-speaking people, numbering roughly 20 and a young Frenchman with aspirations of Priesthood in the motherland. Blackrobe offers an intriguing insight into the relationships between the French and the Aboriginals. That being said most of the background for the movie is taken from a massive archive of
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The Jesuit Priests saw the Aboriginals as savage and uncultured. not unlike the English or Germans before French influence. During a flashback sequence belonging to the main protagonist Father Lafargue, one can see what the elite of France, to which he belongs, think about their new colony. According to his mother it is a land of backwards people with dangers around every corner which was certainly not the case.

A point of contention between critics is the depiction of the horrible torture scenes which illustrates, one might conceive, the Aboriginals barbarism. In one of the opening scenes, a contingent of French workers joke about the various ways the Aboriginals torture Jesuit Priests and Frenchmen alike, not to mention other rival tribes. An example of this barbarism is illustrated when the survivors of the Iroquois attack go through beating lines to inevitably be tortured by having their fingers removed surgically with mussel shells. Although these actions are barbaric, they are no worse than the atrocities that arguably every ‘civilized' nation during the time period committed. This being said, the film seems to make the Iroquois more barbaric than they actually were omitting the fact that they routinely practiced cannibalism.

It is interesting to observe the camera work whereby in almost all the scenes the Jesuits occupy higher position than anyone else. This refers to the Jesuits standing over the Aboriginals

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