The Mission” is a motion picture, directed by Roland Joffe in 1986, about a Jesuit mission that is threatened by greed and imperialism in the late 18th century in the Brazilian jungle. Father Gabriel, played by Jeremy Irons, climbs the mountains of Brazil to bring Christianity to the natives. He is successful and brings about a golden age among them. Mendoza, played by Robert De Niro, a slave trader, kills his brother, Felipe played by Aidan Quinn, in a fit of rage over a woman named Carlotta, played by Cherie Lunghi. Only Fr. Gabriel’s leadership prevents his suicide. Gabriel brings Mendoza to work at his mission with the natives, and Mendoza finds peace and asks to become a priest. The Church, under pressure, gives the land up to the Portuguese who will allow slave traders in again. Mendoza breaks his vows and organizes the natives to fight against the Portuguese while Gabriel warns him not to fight and instead to help them as a priest. At the end of the movie Fr. Gabriel courageously leads a procession with the Host through the battle. He is martyred along with almost everyone else. Only a few young natives are left, whom because they have been touched by God, to rebuild the community.
This movie, more than most I have ever seen, demonstrates graphically, from a normal, human point of view, the net result of the union of passion and greed, where one compliments the other. The two main reasons the mission is threatened, as I have said before, are imperialism and greed. Greed is an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth. In this movie, that translates into, how the Portuguese only wanted to gain these lands for profit. Since natives lived there the Portuguese wanted to gain the land so they could trade slaves there. This was the whole reason Mendoza disregarded his vows and fought against the Portuguese. The other reason, imperialism, is the policy of extending a nation’s authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political domination over other nations. In this case, the Portuguese wanted to acquire the lands belonging to the natives because of economic reasons.
The major theme of this movie is represented in a quote. This quote is, “The church is the bride of Christ, she is also the cross on which he is daily crucified.” The Bride of Jesus Christ is not a what, it’s a who. She is the many membered body of Jesus Christ that is carrying on the Message sent to her from God, she is the Church. “For the marriage of the Lamb is come, And His wife hath made herself ready.” –Revelation 19:7, and “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”-Revelation 21:9, are two quotes from the Bible including the word “bride”, this bride referred to is the Church. When we say “it is the cross on which he is daily crucified,” to me seems to be talking about the Eucharist and mass. Everyday the church celebrates the mass, where we sacrifice Jesus up to God, and where we remember his death on the cross, which opened up the Gates of Heaven. This could also mean another thing, this could be talking about how the Church is always holy but its members are not. This is sort of paradoxical, however it is true, we as Catholics may not be at all times holy, but the Church as the Bride of Christ is forever holy.
This movie has many excellent features. It contains wonderful camera work, breathtaking scenery, and really good performances from Irons and De Niro. All these things make the film quite powerful, and it can really draw the viewer in. However, one cannot help but feel engrossed during the movie and yet unsatisfied at the conclusion. All around however, this movie was great and I’d strongly recommend it.