The Mission-Unchanged

Week 1-The Mission

“Thus have we made the world…thus have I made it.”
The movie we watched this week ends with this closing line. It is very fitting ending for an apologetic movie. But, at the same time it is not void of the same stereotypes that enveloped the society in which it is set in. The movie continues the always-relevant principle of the white man saving the uneducated native. This does not just apply to the Spanish invaders but also to the Jesuit missionaries. The fact that writers of the movie decided to stray from the true history of the Guarani’s self revolt to a revolt led singularly by the Jesuit priests shows that they were wanting to portray the Jesuits as solely saving the Guarani. But, were they saving them or just creating another interruption to their lives?

As Altamarino states himself maybe the natives would have been better off if none had them come. I agree with the movie that the Jesuits were trying to do better than the slave traders. But, what the movie does not explain is the ulterior motives that the Jesuits did have. They were in it for economic benefit also. Their missions were also supposed to be just a transition for the indigenous people before they would become “civilized.” What the movie forgets to portray is the culture that the people had before it. Christianity was not their first religion. They would not have given up their local religions completely and take up Christianity. It would have most likely been a combination of both of them.

Furthermore, I agree completely with James Sahoefield Saeger about the beginning of the movie. The beginning makes the Guarani look barbaric without any explanation. It is carrying on the ethnocentrism that already exists. It gives no Indian side to the story of what it would be like to have a white man come into your village and try to start changing things automatically.

The movie in general relies too much on the old plot line that has been used in movie after movie. It is seen movies from Pocahontas to Avatar. But, what is burned at the alter of this old Hollywood trick is the real story and the real history. To give the movie a heroine they do not choose one of the Guarani but a white man specifically Robert De Nero an upcoming popular actor. I feel that this movie felt that it was setting itself apart from all the others in trying to teach the viewer a lesson. It is trying to make the viewer more aware of the imprint that he or she is leaving in the world. How he or she has shaped the world and the suffering within it. While this is a wholly ethical goal, it was not reached in this movie. The viewer is left with the unchanged story, the white man’s martyrdom for an indigenous population that he himself has already altered.

Till next week,