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Black Robe (film)

 

Black Robe (film)

Black Robe
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bruce Beresford
Produced by Robert Lantos
Sue Milliken
Stéphane Reichel
Written by Brian Moore
Starring Lothaire Bluteau
Aden Young
Sandrine Holt
Tantoo Cardinal
Gordon Tootoosis
August Schellenberg
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography Peter James
Edited by Tim Wellburn
Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release dates
5 September 1991 (premiere at TIFF)
4 October 1991 (USA)
27 February 1992 (Australia)
Running time
101 minutes
Country Canada
Australia
Language English
Latin
Cree
Mohawk
Algonquin
Budget A$11 million[1]
Box office $8,211,952[2]

Black Robe is a 1991 film directed by Bruce Beresford. The screenplay was written by Irish Canadian author Brian Moore, who adapted it from his novel of the same name.

The film's main character, Father LaForgue, is played by Lothaire Bluteau, with other cast members including Aden Young, Sandrine Holt, Tantoo Cardinal, August Schellenberg, Gordon Tootoosis and Raoul Trujillo. It was the first official co-production between a Canadian film team and an Australian one. It was shot entirely in the Canadian province of Quebec.[3]

Contents

  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Development 3
  • Reception 4
  • Box office 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Plot

Set in Jesuit priest, to find a distant Catholic mission in a Huron village.

LaForgue is accompanied on his journey by a non-Jesuit assistant, Daniel, and a group of Algonquin Indians whom Champlain has charged with guiding him to the Huron village. This group includes Chomina (August Schellenberg) - an older, experienced traveller who has clairvoyant dreams; his wife (Tantoo Cardinal); and Annuka (Sandrine Holt), their daughter. As they journey across the lakes and forests, Daniel and Annuka fall in love, to the discomfort of the celibate LaForgue.

The group meet with a band of She-Manitou appearing to him.

As the weather grows colder, Annuka and Daniel take LaForgue to the outskirts of the Huron settlement, but leave him to enter it alone, because Chomina had dreamed that this must happen. LaForgue finds all but one of the French inhabitants dead, murdered by the Hurons who blamed them for a baptizing them. LaForgue confronts the Hurons.

When their leader asks LaForgue if he loves them, LaForgue thinks of the faces of all the Indians he has met on his journey, and answers "Yes". The leader then asks him to baptize them, and the Hurons accept Christianity. The film ends with a golden sunrise. An intertitle explains that fifteen years later, the Huron were massacred by the Iroquois, and the French mission was destroyed.

Cast

Development

Bruce Beresford had wanted to make a film out of Brian Moore's novel ever since it was first published. The rights had been acquired by Canada's Alliance Communications who had signed another director. That person fell out, as did another director, before the job was given to Beresford.[4] Beresford:

I think that, even if you have no religious faith whatever or, even if you despised the Jesuits, you would still find it an interesting story. It's a wonderful study of obsession and love. And it is a wonderful adventure of the spirit and of the body. What those people did, going to a country where winters were far more severe than anything they had known in Europe, meeting people who were far more fierce than anyone they had ever encountered... Having to deal with these people shows us something of humanity at its greatest. It's the equivalent of today's people getting into space shuttles and going off into space. It takes unbelievable courage to do this.[5]

Funds were raised under a co-production treaty between Canada and Australia. The production needed 30% Australian finance and the Film Finance Corporation investment had to be spent on Australian elements, such as Australian crew and two Australian actors.[4][5]

Reception

The film won the Genie Award for Best Canadian Film and Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Schellenberg), Art Direction, Cinematography; Golden Reel Award; and Australian Film Institute – Cinematography.

Black Robe was praised as a "magnificently staged combination of top talents delivering a gripping and tragic story",[3] and has been rated one of the most meticulously researched representations of indigenous life put on film.[6] Notably, the film includes dialogue in the Cree, Mohawk, and Algonquin languages. The French characters speak English in the film. Latin is used for Catholic prayers.

Political activist Ward Churchill, after praising the film-making highly, criticized historical inaccuracies.[7] He said he thought the film vilified the Mohawks as part of a theme that Indian resistance to European culture was evil.[8]

Box office

Black Robe grossed $2,036,056 at the box office in Australia.[9]

See also

References

  1. ^ Greg Kerr, "Black Robe", Australian Film 1978-1992, Oxford Uni Press 1993 p331
  2. ^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=blackrobe.htm
  3. ^ a b Variety (1 January 1991). "Black Robe". 
  4. ^ a b Andrew Urban, "Black Robe", Cinema Papers, March 1991 p6-12
  5. ^ a b , 7 December 1991Signet"Interview with Bruce Beresford", accessed 17 November 2012
  6. ^ Rotten Tomatoes. "Black Robe (1991)". 
  7. ^ Such as showing a young male Mohawk chief killing a captive child, whereas, Churchill says, female elders made the Mohawks' decisions on captives and adopted children into the tribe.
  8. ^  
  9. ^ Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office

External links

  • Black Robe at the Internet Movie Database
  • Black Robe, Canadian Film Encyclopedia
  • Black Robe details National Film and Sound Archive
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