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The Mission (1986)

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A powerful epic about a man of the sword and a man of the cloth who unite to shield a South American Indian tribe from brutal subjugation by 18th-century colonial empires. This unforgettable, action-filled drama of faith vs. greed and wills vs. cultures stars Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons.


After the 1492 publicity tour by an Italian sailor whose promotional skills were better than his sense of direction, the nations of Europe practically tripped over each other in their rush to carve empires out of the newly-"discovered" continents of the Western Hemisphere. In addition to the secular nation-states, the Catholic Church got in on the act as well. Disputes over arbitrary boundary lines on inaccurate maps were common; after all, when people sitting comfortably at home in Europe are drawing the lines, there are bound to be inaccuracies.

If the lands of the New World were treated like just so many squares on a chessboard, the people of those lands fared even worse. At best, they were an annoyance and an obstacle to be overcome; at worst, they became commodities over which the European powers could haggle and bargain.

In the midst of these struggles were the missionaries, who saw themselves as the Indians' best friends, but who in their own way forced tremendous change and upheaval in the native cultures.

Tags: adventure, catholic films, drama, holocaust/genocide, missions, war, history

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