Adapting material from the Thwaites' edition of the Jesuit Relations, screenwriter Brian Moore and director Bruce Beresford present the story of a French Jesuit missionary overcoming adversity to serve God against the majestic backdrop of 17th century New France. Determined to convert the "savages" to Christianity, Father Paul Laforgue travels from Champlain's Quebec trading post 1500 miles to the Huron Mission, guided by a young man named Daniel and members of the Algonquin tribe. The young Jesuit struggles between his ideals of Christian self-sacrifice and desires of the flesh as they make their arduous journey. But internal struggles are not the only impediments to Laforgue's quest. Because of Chief Chomina's mysterious and foreboding dream, the Algonquins believe that Blackrobe (the name they give Laforgue because of his clerical cassock) is a demon. After being abandoned, then recovered, by his Algonquin guides and his assistant Daniel, Laforgue and company are captured and tortured by the Iroquois. After escaping the Iroquois and resuming the journey to the Huron Mission, his remaining companions once again leave him to arrive alone. Encountering a Huron population devastated by plague, Laforgue says that he loves them and vows to remain at the mission for the rest of his life. At the request of the Hurons, who have heard that "water sorcery" will cure their disease, Laforgue baptizes them, the sick and the healthy. Titles reveal that within fifteen years of this baptism, the Iroquois wipe out the converted Huron population and the Jesuits close the mission, returning to Quebec.
Copyright (c) 2000 by Robert F. Kilker, Graduate Student at Lehigh University.
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