The Mission

When it comes to our first film, The Mission, I find it very hard to be overly critical of the inaccuracies between the movie and the truth, found from our readings. At the end of the day, it is what it is. A movie. It is in no way a documentary, meant to provide the masses with information. It was simply produced for our entertainment, and to make money. Yes. It claims to be based from truth. However, there are a lot of things from the movie that are true, just toned down in order to keep the movie from being an absolute downer.
With that being said, we can further analyze the differences, and similarities, between the film and the truth. The main idea of the movie was obviously to present to the Jesuits as the saviors of the Guarani. It is a bit suspicious at how quickly, and open armed they are accepted and able to infiltrate the native tribes. But it makes sense to me that in a two hour movie you kinda have to condense things like that so the story keeps moving and keeps your audience interested, so that I can accept. And while we are on that note, this movie had enough of a problem with being interesting. The movie was very depressing throughout, from Pacino’s beautiful lover breaking his heart to a little brotherly love…I mean murder. Then of course we have the slaughter of an entire settlement, but the way that happened goes right along with how those people were really treated, more often those who revolted. The only redeeming characteristic of this movie is the passion the Jesuits had for establishing the missionaries and saving the people from slavery.
The missionaries were in fact, in many cases, the only form of protection for the native tribes from being captured and put into slavery, and also the only thing protecting the territory from the ongoing fight by the Portuguese. In Jesuit Missions in Spanish America: The Aftermath of Expulsion, there is a very good explanation not only of what happened after, but also before the expulsion. “As with the Guarani missions, they acted as a barrier to the Portuguese advance west” (Merino). This point is shown explicitly throughout the movie. The only people that really cared about the well being of the people were the Jesuits, everyone else was only concerned with who had control of the territory with regard to the slavery of the savages.
Another interesting similarity I found in from our readings were between that of Friar Bartoleme de las Casas and Pacino’s character Rodrigo Mendoza. We read about las Casas in Born in Blood and Fire, and even though they are not exactly the same person, las Casas “lived the life of an early Caribbean conqueror, watching indigenous people die by the dozen from exploitation and disease” (Chasteen). Then, at the age of 40, he completely turned his life around, devoting it to educating people on ways to protect the indigenous peoples. Now of course Rodrigo did have to kill his brother to become enlightened, either way they were bad dudes and decided to spend the rest of their lives protecting the indigenous people that were involved in their lives. Rodrigo Mendoza’s back story provides just enough side story drama to the film to make it interesting. OH… the ex slave trader gives his life to protect those who he used to profit off of. How sweet.