history 475-The Mission

The film, The Mission dealt exclusively with eighteenth century Latin America and the issues that plagued the time. The film was successful in communicating historical facts and interpretations, from both sides of the issue. The audience was able to relate and understand the perspective of the Jesuit’s and the indigenous people, but at the same time the perspective of the conquestors of Spain and Portugal were also understood. The film surrounds the struggle between the Jesuits, who wished to turn the indigenous people into Christians and keep them free; and the Spanish and Portuguese who did not understand them, and therefore wished to capture them and turn them into slaves.  The film did a sufficient job in separating the two groups being represented. “Winners and losers. Rich and poor. Conquerors and conquered. Masters and slaves. That is the old, old conflict at the heart of Latin American history” (Chasteen 19). This distinction between the indigenous people and those who came to conquer them made the issues between them easier to understand. Through the lack of understanding of the other, both groups experienced natural human reactions to the other. Their interactions represented differences and unfamiliarness, and that led the people to act accordingly. From a socially historic standpoint, this film captured the facts and gave accurate interpretations about human interactions. People react to foreign ideas and behaviors in different ways. For the indigenous people their reaction was categorized more as fear and rejection, and the colonizers reaction was one of domination. Another interesting fact to note is that the perceptions of the indigenous people are expressed indirectly through the actions of the Jesuits, unlike those of the Spanish.  While there was a clear distinction to be drawn between the local inhabitants of the area and the colonizers, the role the Jesuits played in history was more complex and one that was conveyed through the film. They were Europeans, and therefore were under the scrutiny and authority of the Spanish Crown as well as the Catholic Church. However, they were also compassionate and accepting of the indigenous people and culture. The climax of the film concerns the issue of whether the Jesuits can continue their mission there, or not. Through the action of the film the emotions of the characters are understood, and give a deeper look into the real life conflict that effected these people.  Through this film the effects of colonization are evident, and it gives a historical perspective of the conquest that is a very real part of Latin American history. “For Latin America, conquest and colonization by the Spanish and Portuguese created patterns of social domination that became eternal givens, like the deep and lasting marks of an original sin” (Chasteen 29). The film’s goal was to explain the issue surrounding the Jesuit’s mission in Latin America, and the decision to stop that mission. This goal, of expressing the events and the effects this decision had on the differing perspectives was achieved throughout the course of the film. The audience was able to understand the differing views, and grasp the effect during and after the mission in Latin America.