The movie “The Mission,” did a great job of showing how the world was in the age of early Imperialization. The most impressive part was how they used the Spanish and Portuguese businessmen and slave traders, as well as the Jesuit monks, themselves, to portray how the Europeans were so rapidly trying to subjugate and profit off of the enslavement of the indigent tribes. In the roles of men like Captain Rodrigo Mendoza, at the beginning, and later through the character of Senior Hontar, the movie captured the avarice and greed of the Europeans who were so interested in increasing their wealth, by any means necessary.
However, the movie tries to make men like Father Gabriel and Brother Fielding out to be these great heroes of the faith. “The Mission” tried to portray them as selfless believers who were only were only out to try and bring the message of salvation to the different tribes of Latin and South America. The only problem is that this portrayal is a way to look at the Catholic Church and the Jesuit ministers through rose colored glasses. This is not to say that the missionaries that the church sent out weren’t completely sincere in their belief in their mission, but the mission that they were sacrificing their lives for, wasn’t exactly a noble cause. The Spanish and Portuguese slave trades and businessmen are supposed to be the ones vilified in the viewer’s perspective, but in reality the missionaries were playing a part in the overall goals of the European powers.
In the age of that “The Mission” was set in, the church was undergoing a great deal of expansion that went hand in hand with the expansion of European powers, and that was no coincidence. In the idealism of the movie, one can see how it was meant to show that the missionaries were expanding out to new areas and bringing the Word of God with them. Unfortunately, while the intent of evangelizing the indigents was an admirable goal, there often was an ulterior motive. The European invaders had always had a hard time subjugating the people in Latin America for many obvious reasons. To combat this, the Europeans tried to introduce culture and civility into the lives of the natives, and with that, they also realized that by converting them into Christians, they could appeal to the people’s religion, and thus subjugate them even quicker. So weather it was a conscious choice on the parts of the missionaries, or a decision made by the heads of the church back in Europe, it didn’t really matter. Religious men like the Jesuit monks were being used to aid in the Imperialization of Latin America. So this end, the movie did include the character of Cardinal Altamirano, who, weather willingly or not, sided with Senior Hontar and allowed the Guaraní people to be slaughtered and the rest enslaved. This movie portrayed one of the unfortunate ugly chapters in the history of Latin America, and in the Catholic Church’s history.