Like Most I was more pleasantly surprised than I thought I would be about this week’s movie The Mission. I had zero expectations in the beginning, but seeing Robert De Niro and Liam Neeson in the beginning raised them quite a bit because let’s face it they are both awesome. The basic plot consists of the conflict between both the Portuguese and the Spanish and the Guarani and the Jesuits. The Guarani missions are in danger of no longer being under the protection of the church which would subject them to the enslavement of even Murder by the Portuguese and Spanish. However, like most historically based movies they are very flawed and swayed in their views and facts. There are different liberties that writers and directors take with movies, especially those based on actual events in history which make the flaws stand out even more.
While this movie, from the perspective of anyone else is a fairly decent movie, from the perspective of those looking for historical accuracy it does not really measure up. After reading Saeger’s article on the actual history of the event it makes the movie appear to be biased in ways. These skewed perspectives and events that the movie portrays makes the audiences’ feelings of sympathy or anger misplaced. History tells us that the natives simply did not accept the Europeans and their practices or the Jesuits into their villages as they did in the movie by the priest simply playing his flute of acceptance, in reality the native resisted for quite a while the push from the Europeans in their attempt to Christianize or as they saw it all together “humanize” them. The natives resisted them for awhile and in the end the only reason they allowed them in their society was because of the agricultural tools they had to offer them. Another point that kind of angered me was their portrayal of the natives, making them seem barbaric or primitive. For example in the movie when the natives captured and were killing the pig and De Niro refused it made them seem cruel and him seem gentile. Or also we learned from the readings that the women were not as scantily dressed as in the movie. And the last thing that I thought was an interesting difference in the movie and history is the point that Saeger stated that after the Europeans did integrate themselves into native lives, the natives learned many things from them and adapted them into their culture. He said that they learned military skills and strategy from them and implemented them into their society, so unlike the movie they knew a little more about war and in particular war with the equipment and advantages that the Europeans had. So, while it may have still been somewhat of a slaughter the natives may not have been running around as seemingly clueless as they made them seem in the movie.
In the movie someone, I believe the priest, made the point that he thinks the native people may have been better off never having had encountered the Europeans. Its funny how they thought or liked to tell people they were doing this to help them but I don’t know how killing, enslaving, and running them out of their own homes helped them