The Mission: Inaccurate Portrayals of the Guarani and Jesuit Relations

Topics: The Mission, Society of Jesus, Jesuit Reductions Pages: 4 (1533 words) Published: November 3, 2008
The film “The Mission” (1986) was written by Robert Bolt and directed by Roland Joffe. It explores the various relationships distinguished between Spanish Jesuits and Indian (Guarani) civilization situated along the borders of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil around 1750. Although, as stated in the beginning of the movie that “The Mission” is “based on true historical events”, Bolt and Joffe distort the portrayal of the Guarani and Jesuit relationships. This essay will examine the distortions of the Guarani tribe and the inaccurate “historical” events that took place within the movie.

Although many historical filmmakers alter some events and use fiction as a tool in providing an accurate historical representation, the makers of “The Mission” take fictional aids and factual boundaries for granted. More specifically, Joffe and Bolt falsify the image of Guarani natives in South America as well as the Jesuits of Spain. The film begins with the first inaccurate depiction of the Guarani tribe. The opening scene of the Guarani sending a Jesuit priest down a waterfall tied to a cross illustrates that the tribe does not look kindly upon Jesuits and is above all, savage. The image of savages and hatred towards Jesuits is an inaccurate assumption. In actual fact, since the 1500s the Guarani tribes accepted the Jesuit missions due to the abundance of iron tools provided to them from the Jesuits . The various knives and axes became extremely valuable to the Guarani for production purposes. The importance of these tools also comes as the real reason why Father Gabriel would be accepted into the Guarani civilization in the first place. In the movie, Father Gabriel entices the Guarani by playing music from a clarinet. Although the Guarani did enjoy music, agricultural tools were of more importance and came as the primary reason why a Jesuit would be accepted amongst the civilization. Even though this scene in the film is very short lived and trivial, it leaves the viewer...

Bibliography: Caraman, Phillip. Lost Paradise: an account of the jesuits in Paraguay,1607 - 1768. London, 1975.
Cunnighame, Graham. Vanished Arcadia: being some account of the Jesuits in Paraguay, 1607 - 1767. New York: New York : Dial Press, 1924.
Ganson, Barbara. Like children under wise parental sway: passive portrayals of the Guarani Indians in European literature and The Mission. 1994.
price, John A. the stereotyping of North American Indians in motion pictures. Duke University Press, 1973.
Saeger, James Schofield. The Mission and Historical Missions: Film and the Writing of History. (1995).
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