Black Robe Historical Analysis

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Black Robe:
A Historical Analysis

Black Robe presents the story of a French Jesuit missionary struggling to stay true to his religion while traveling from Champlain’s fur trading outpost to a Huron Native American mission in Nouvelle France during the 17th century. Father Paul La Forgue sets out on the 1,500 mile journey with members of the Algonquian tribe and a young Frenchman named Daniel Davost, determined to convert the “savages” to Christianity. Throughout the film, Father La Forgue faces the Algonquians’ beliefs that he is a demon, calling him “Black Robe”, and even abandoning him for a short period. Later, when his Algonquian guides and Daniel recover him, they are captured and tortured by an Iroquois tribe. Eventually, Father La Forgue escapes the Iroquois encampment and makes it to the Huron mission. There, at the request of the Hurons, he baptizes both their sick and healthy tribe members and vows to remain with them for the rest of his life. An epilogue title reveals that fifteen years after this vow, the Iroquois obliterate the converted Huron tribe and the Jesuits close the mission and return to Quebec.
In the film Black Robe, the Algonquian, Iroquois and Huron Native American tribes are, with a few exceptions, accurately depicted through the costumes, languages spoken, beliefs conveyed and customs observed. Additionally, the fictional character Father La forgue closely parallels the historical accounts of Father Paul Le Jeune’s 1634 Native American encounters, Father Jean de Brebeuf’s trek from Samuel du Champlain’s fur trading outpost in Nouvelle-France to the Huron mission, as well as Noel Chabanel’s time spent at the same mission until his death and its ultimate demise in 1649 at the hands of Iroquois Native Americans. Undoubtedly, the tribe with whom Father La Forgue has the most contact throughout the film Black Robe is the Algonquian tribe. The Algonquians were historically a nomadic tribe, making their role as guides for Father



Bibliography: An Autobiography of Martyrdom: Spiritual Writings of the Jesuits in New France. Translated by Sister M. Renelle, S.S.N.D. Sel. Francois Roustang, S.J. St. Louis: B. Herder, 1964. Axtell, James. “Black Robe.” Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies. Ed. Mark C. Carnes. New York: Holt, 1995. Flood, Jeanne A. "Black Robe: Brian Moore 's Appropriation of History." Eire-Ireland. 25.4 (1990): 40-55. Freebury, Jane. “Black Robe: Ideological Cloak and Dagger?” Australian-Canadian Studies 10.1 (1992): 119-26. Gallagher, Edward J. “Saving Souls So That Others Might Trade Furs: The Jesuits in New France.” Reel American History: Black Robe (1991). Accessed October 4, 2011 http://digital.lib.lehigh.edu/trial/reels/films/list/1_4_6 Gallagher, Edward J Gallagher, Edward J. “Synopsis.” Reel American History: Black Robe (1991). Accessed October 4, 2011 http://digital.lib.lehigh.edu/trial/reels/films/list/1_4_6 Goddard, Peter A Greer, Allan, Editor. The Jesuit Relations: Natives and Missionaries in Seventeenth Century North America. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. Leahy, David. "History: Its Contradiction and Absence in Brian Moore 's The Revolution Script and Black Robe." World Literature Written in English 28.2 (1988): 308-17. [ 2 ]. Edward J. Gallagher “Saving Souls So That Others Might Trade Furs: The Jesuits in New France.” Reel American History: Black Robe (1991). Accessed October 4, 2011 http://digital.lib.lehigh.edu/trial/reels/films/list/1_4_6 [ 3 ] [ 4 ]. Jane Freebury. “Black Robe: Ideological Cloak and Dagger?” Australian-Canadian Studies 10.1 (1992): 119-26. [ 5 ]. Peter A Goddard. “Converting the Savage: Jesuit and Montagnais in Seventeenth-Century New France.” The Catholic Historical Review 84.2(1988): 219-39 [ 6 ] [ 7 ]. Edward J. Gallagher “Scene Log.” Reel American History: Black Robe (1991). Accessed October 4, 2011 http://digital.lib.lehigh.edu/trial/reels/films/list/1_4_6 [ 8 ] [ 9 ]. James Axtell. “Black Robe.” Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies. Ed. Mark C. Carnes. New York: Holt, 1995. [ 10 ]. Allan Greer, Editor. The Jesuit Relations: Natives and Missionaries in Seventeenth Century North America. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. [ 11 ]. An Autobiography of Martyrdom: Spiritual Writings of the Jesuits in New France. Translated by Sister M. Renelle, S.S.N.D. Sel. Francois Roustang, S.J. St. Louis: B. Herder, 1964. [ 12 ]. David Leahy. "History: Its Contradiction and Absence in Brian Moore 's The Revolution Script and Black Robe." World Literature Written in English 28.2 (1988): 308-17.

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