The Mission

The Mission

The Mission

Starring: Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons
Director: Roland Joffé
Format: Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby
Rated: PG13
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: May 13, 2003
Run Time: 125

Robert De Niro is Rodrigo Mendoza, a wealthy adventurer who makes a fortune as a mid-eighteenth-century slave trader, capturing Guarani Indians in Paraguay and selling them for a huge profit to the local governor. Mendoza’s life takes a turn for the worse, however, when he learns that the woman he loves, Carlotta (Cherie Lunghi), has fallen in love with his younger brother, Felipe (Aidan Quinn). And when he discovers them in bed together, he loses control and kills his brother in a swordfight. Afterwards, however, Mendoza is consumed with extreme guilt and he becomes a Jesuit postulant after meeting Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons). But Father Gabriel, who has always cared for the natives and resented the slave traders, is at first unsure if Mendoza’s desire to do penance and achieve redemption is sincere. Mendoza finally completes his penance after suffering many hardships, and he helps Gabriel teach the Indians about Christianity. As the years pass, Mendoza and Gabriel become close if somewhat wary companions, running the isolated mission above Iguacu Falls together while allowing each other plenty of personal space.

Everything changes, though, when in 1750 Spain and Portugal sign the Treaty of Madrid, which redefines their territorial borders in the Americas. The end result of the treaty is that Spain (which has forsaken slavery) delivers the Indian land to Portugal (where slavery remains legal). To avoid the Jesuit order being expelled from Portugal, all Jesuit missions in South America are ordered closed by the Pope, which means the Indians living there will be abandoned to the slave traders. The Guarani Indians are determined to stay and fight for the mission they’ve come to love, and this deeply troubles Mendoza. Despite his Jesuit vow of practicing nonviolence, he knows that with his past fighting skills as a mercenary he’s the only one who can teach the Guaranis to defend themselves. Gabriel also stays, but for a different reason. The end result of the inevitable battle is predictable but nevertheless is devastating to watch.

“The Mission” is without a doubt one of the most breathtaking masterpieces I’ve ever seen. It is simply stunning, both in a visual and spiritual way that few films can achieve. Robert De Niro, although boldy cast against type, gave one of his finest performances and certainly deserved an oscar. Jeremy Irons was also outstanding, and the supporting cast (including Aidan Quinn and Liam Neeson) was wonderful. The scenery was incredible, as was the cinematography. And who can forget the beautiful music by one of the greatest composers of all time, Ennio Morricone? In short, to call this one of the greatest movies of all time is an understatement. The DVD has an awesome picture and sound quality that even improve the viewing experience, and the in-depth making-of documentary was very informative and entertaining. If you enjoy watching movies at all, then do yourself a favor and add this treasure to your collection!

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