TheMission gives the typical Hollywood version of history. Thelonging to describe an event of the past by searching to make a hero out of agroup of people who would not have been viewed as such at that time tends to bea recurring theme in historical representations produced by Hollywood. Whenwatching The Mission one mustremember that maximizing entertainment is the goal of Hollywood to producelarge profits. Historical accuracy is usually near the bottom of the list formovie producers.
Thefilms appears to do a good job at representing the tensions over religion andother controversial issues such as slavery, but it’s representation of theJesuit mission and Guarani people appear to be lacking in factual substance.James Saeger’s article gives a rather compelling argument that the Jesuitmission and the Guarani people were actually very different than portrayed inthe film. The film portrays the relationship between the two groups as afriendly and compassionate relationship. The Guarani are rather accepting ofthe Christian faith, and seem to only question the Pope’s ability to know thewill of God. Saeger explains that the Guarani people were not as accepting ofthe Christian faith as the movie may lead one to believe. They were highlysuperstitious and stuck to many of their traditions. The Jesuit missionariesare portrayed as heroes in the film that are only concerned with the well beingof the Guarani people. In truth, they were their under the orders of theCatholic Church. They had a job to make peaceful land transfers more peaceful andreligious leaders hoped Christianity would make the Indian people of SouthAmerica submissive to these land transfers. One thing the movie does correctlyportray is the strong will of the Guarani people.
TheGuarani people were not so willing to just give up their way of life. The filmsportrays that they were easily persuaded by the Jesuits, but Saeger argues thatmost of the relationship relied on the mass influx of iron that was used toproduce tools and weapons that improved the overall living condition of the Guarani people.Within the film, the Guarani people are portrayed more as savages whodrastically needed the help of the Jesuits. In truth, the Guarani people weremore than capable of surviving on their own. The tools and weapons initiallybrought to them was simply an attempt along with Christianity in order to makethem more submissive to the European powers. Their strong will to maintaintheir own way of life did not allow this to happen.
The European powers of the sixteenth centurywere interested in the land only for its economical advantages, this includedbeing able to enslave the natives of the land to use them as a means of cheaplabor for producing goods. Surely many of the missionaries were there becausethey truly believed they were brining people to God, but they were also pawnsof the European powers and the Church to colonize new lands. These facts arenot clearly stated within the film itself. Without delving into the trueaccounts of the Guarani people and the turmoil they faced, many people wouldmiss the obvious historical inaccuracies of TheMission.