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Film Review - The Mission

            In Roland Joffé's 1986 movie The Mission the film incorporates the fall of the Jesuit missions in the borderlands between Paraguay and Argentina in the mid-1700s. Spain and Portugal signed a treaty renegotiating a borderline between Spanish and Portuguese territories in South America, with Portugal taking control of a previously owned Spanish region on the Paraguay River. In this area were a number of mission communities, founded by the Jesuits, where thousands of native Guaraní converts lived. (Greydanus, 2002). These missions, known as reductions, which was a term of colonial hubris indicating that the natives, who once lived in the wilderness, had been "brought back", or "brought together" in community by the preaching and civilizing influences of the Jesuits, who brought with them technology, law, and the gospel (Campbell, 1921). The setting of the movie takes place in South America in the 18th century, where two dominate groups of people, slave traders and missionaries, are competing for the minds of the native Indian group, the Guarani. The film is expressed and developed through a dictated letter, which explain what endured in the mission settlement. .
             The film begins with a dictated letter from the Cardinal to the Pope. Father Gabriel, a Jesuit, is introduced in the beginning of the film, and immediately shows his desire to evolve and cast Christianity to the native Indians, known as the Guarani. Father Gabriel attains the trust of the Guarani people through music and religious teachings, and diversifies them and inaugurates work on a new Mission. In relation to Thomas W. O'Brien's 2004 article, 'Utopia in the Midst of Oppression? A Reconsideration of Guarani/Jesuit Communities in 17th and 18th Century Paraguay', he addresses that Catholicism's most compelling feature for the Guarani was the extravagant liturgical celebrations with their gold, incense, art, and above all, music.

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