The Mission

In concern with the relation between the movie, The Mission, and its historical accuracy, I believe that the director of the movie appeared to be more focused on selling a movie with a purpose rather than being historically accurate.  After reading the article by James Schofield Saeger I came to the conclusion that the movie is not as historically accurate as it is appealing to the viewer of a film with a plot, character development in association with what an audience might expect, climax and an ending.  The only parallel that I gathered from the movie to historical elements would be the overall situation of the aboriginals and Europeans learning to associate themselves with each other, which may not always be in the best of intentions in regards to the Europeans and their treatment towards the Indians.  The two cultures have clashed and, with regrets, the Indians got the sore end of the deal with their maltreatment. 

The article by Saeger pointed out many misconceptions that the film portrayed some of these include one that was extremely shocking to me is that in Jesuit missions, beatings were not unknown.  In the film these missionaries were characterized as very religious and understanding individuals who seemed to be appalled at the notification of the scars on an Indian that was inflicted by a Paraguayan master.  Just this information alone completely discredits the films idea of the Jesuits for me because when watching the film I got the impression that these priests were there under good intentions and with the idea of equality and opportunity for the Indians but after reading Saeger’s article and finding out that the priests inflicted these wounds on Indians just as regular as any other European changes the entire credibility of the film in my opinion.

Another example that Saeger pointed out that was historically inaccurate that involved the relation of the priests to the Guaranis is this notion from the film their daily relations were peaceful and harmonic.  The movie stated that their earnings of their daily work and routines returned to their communities.  Saeger pointed out that once missions were built and in control this was not the case.  In fact, priests would lock the produce that was cultivated by the Guaranis in mission warehouses, unavailable to the people who were working for this food which sounds more like a slave/master type of relationship rather than a priest/Indian relationship of fairness as the movie tried to represent.  Guaranis has to optain permission in order to have access to the rewards in which they labored for and at times the Guaranis would break the rules and share their surpluses between themselves anyways.

These among other points made by Saeger informed me that the film wasn’t as historically accurate as I thought while watching it.  The film does represent some sign of national identity during the first half before the priests had an impact on their society.  They were grouped together and had their own routines of daily life to run their own community which provides a sense of security and reliance on each other.  Once the priests arrived it seemed that the Guaranis let go of their native ways pretty quickly with the transformation of their buildings and even how they built things with the help of European tools and their religious concept wasn’t easily let go either, according to Saeger.

As for the film in concerns of an audience and Hollywood I believe that it was a good movie in trying to portray the struggles of the aboriginals when the Europeans arrived.  For example, at the end of the movie when Altamirano wondered if the aboriginals don’t just wish that the waters and wind had never blown the Europeans in their direction.  In a Hollywood context with a plot and character development of the priests joining with the aboriginals, gaining acceptance into their community and gallantly fighting for them until the end, it was a good setup with a hero’s ending.