The Mission

The Mission, a film that got its first release on the 31st of October, 1986. It features theatre giants such as Robert De Niro acting as Rodrigo Mendoza and Jeremy Irons characterized as Father Gabriel. Other stars in the film include Liam Neeson playing Fielding and Aidan Quinn acting the part of Felipe Mendoza, the brother to Rodrigo Mendoza. Though this is more of a personal opinion than an objective perspective, I would like to state here that not a single clip from The Mission (1986) can be judged as unwatchable. In brief, the film tells the story of life and struggle for survival for the 18th century missionaries laying down their lives for Christ in the Guarani lands of South America. The sole objective of the missionaries was to spread the gospel and convert the native Indians to Christianity. However, in the cause of the mission, the evangelists faced hostility from the natives and, at some point, enmity from the powers that ought to protect them, the temporal colonial powers. This paper presents a critical review of The Mission.

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The film begins with the clip of priest being tied to a cross and thrown down the Iguazu falls. This clip is meant to show the enmity of the local community that knew nothing more than revenge and hostility. With full knowledge about the demise of the first and several other priests, Father Gabriel climbed up to the point where the community had thrown down the priest and started playing his oboe. The music attracted the Guarani warriors but unlike in the past where the priest would be attacked with spears and arrows on sight, Father Gabriel’s soothing music gained him friends out of the warriors and that is how he began building the mission among the natives. He taught them of love and the strength and power of being in love not only among themselves but also with God and gradually, the Jesuit mission gained roots in the community. To this extent, the mission received protection and support from the Spanish colonizers.

Among the whites, there was a man named Rodrigo Mendoza who made a living by capturing the natives and selling them as slaves in the Spanish-held plantations. His sight spelt death and pain to the natives until one day he killed his brother Felipe Mendoza and in a bid to cleanse himself of the guilt, Father Gabriel helped him convert to a Christian and a member of the mission together with Fielding. There came a time when a section of the Guarani land was given to the Portuguese who sought to further enslavement of the natives, a process that would jeopardize the mission. It is at this point that the mission found itself under the attack of the Portuguese and the Spanish; the three priests died, but their presence lived long after them.

Other than a little confusion towards the end of the film where Rodrigo Mendoza and Fielding opt for armed resistance while Father Gabriel chooses prayers and passive resistance, the film perfectly tells a two-centuries old story whose actors hardly knew about. The characterization helps make an incredible film while their carrying out of the roles help cement the story presented in The Mission in the hearts of its viewers. In conclusion, the director of the film made the characterization as real as possibly it could be with the physical appearance of the two main characters, Gabriel and Rodrigo, helping tell of the broken spirit that was in missionaries and the sacrifices that they made for the sake of reaching out to spread the gospel.


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