Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Top Ten Films: Part Eight

“Thus have we made the world…thus have I made it.”

This quote sums up the point of 1986’s movie “The Mission.” It is a historical piece, telling the story of Catholic missions in South America. The whole story is told from the perspective of a Catholic official writing a report back to the Pope on whether or not the Church should protect the indigenous population from slavery.

This movie has good aspects (cinematography, musical score, screenplay) and questionable ones (De Niro and Irons as Spaniards with New York and British accents!) But it was nominated for seven academy awards (of which it won one) and many other prizes.

The amazing thing about this film is its positive and straight presentation of the Christian faith. Issues such as repentance, penance, the Christian stance on war and violence are shown with great complexity. One of the most interesting takes in The Mission is the way they present the native life.

Most of the time, primitive man is shown as being in a sort of paradise without the evils of modern institutions and religions. Here, however, the jungle is a fearful Hell until the missionaries come and bring Christianity to the Guarani. When they are told that the Church is abandoning them and they must return to their previous life, they reject that idea and decide to fight for this new life they have found.

This film provokes a lot of thought and discussion, and presents sides of Christianity in a very positive light, while at the same time showing the dangers and negative sides of institutional religion. It is a must see for the Christian film fan.

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