The movie The Mission (1986) staring Robert DiNiero, is set during the 1700’s time period and sheds light on the Jesuits and their early missions in Brazil. It shows us a timeline of the behaviors of countries such as Spain and Portugal as well as the Jesuit missions. The movie opens with a focus on an native village set on the top of a waterfall. This village is depicted from two separate viewpoints, as the viewer is shown a Jesuit Priest named Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) in the beginning steps of attempting to submerge into the Indian culture in hope to eventually convert them to the Jesuit faith and from the perspective of slave trader Mendoza (Robert DeNiro).
The nature of greed is that it compels us to do dangerous things. It disregards the feelings and positions of others and instead replaces them with what we want out of the situation. Latin America, a beautiful part of the world rich with history and culture, knows exactly what greed can do, especially to hungry imperialists seeking to plunder the resources and vitality within its borders. An aggressive desire for wealth, riches, spices, and other material things have made Latin America an arena for violence against native Latin Americans.
In the film The Mission, director Roland Joffe shows us the power of faith in religion and God as well as the dangerous result of passion and greed coming together as one. ?In this film, a Jesuit priest named Father Gabriel goes into the deepest parts of the Latin American jungle and seeks to evangelize the local tribe living there. Although they are initially wary of him, the natives eventually begin to trust him and allow him to convert them.
Mendoza, played by Robert De Niro, is a former slave trader who after killing his brother in a fit of rage, decides to join Father Gabriel in his missionary work and spreads the values of the mission and religion. Their hard work and unity as a mission is threatened when the Portuguese attack and attempt to control the land and people the mission is founded on. Father Gabriel, a man full of faith in God and religion, seeks nonviolent means to fight the Portuguese. Mendoza, however, after vowing to also act nonviolently, breaks his promise and teaches the natives how to fight against the Portuguese.
The film, unlike most other films, does not have a happy ending. Eventually, almost everyone perishes and only a few are left to spread the values of love, faith, religion, and to rebuild the community that they grew to respect and cherish. ?Religion and the church play a huge role in the film. Despite the obvious fact that the premise of the film is about a priest evangelizing native Latin Americans, the religious aspect of the film emits a sense of love, benevolence, and goodwill. The filmmaker suggests that unlike many other “invaders” of Latin America, the Christian missionaries wanted to entirely devote themselves to the natives.They devoted themselves faithfully and were willing to preserve the natives’ pure way of life, unlike many invaders who came into Latin America and attempted to halt all that was common and introduced new ways of living. The filmmaker tells us that in order to represent the values of Christianity, people must devote themselves fully and be willing to make sacrifices, just like Father Gabriel and Mendoza did for the natives and the mission. ?Another theme in the film is the union of greed and passion. It is no surprise, especially to Latin America, that the desire for worldly things can cause great destruction and tragedy.
The two main reasons the mission was threatened in the film boils down to imperialism and greed, which are essentially interchangeable. To imperialize a country is to be riddled with greed and hunger. Greed, desiring to possess more than one needs or even deserves to possess, is conveyed endlessly throughout the film. The Portuguese only wanted to gain the mission and land for profit. Even worse, after they would gain the land they so desperately desired, they would enslave the people and make them operate under Portuguese rules to further their profit and power.
In this film, greed and power undermine morals and the ethics of human kind. The filmmaker showcases the worst traits in man, in which the desire for mere things cause man to slaughter man and disregard the love and respect humans should have for one another. ?The film, although tragic and essentially very morbid, mirrors the historical realities of the time and illustrates Latin America’s struggle to keep itself a stable, prospering region despite the invading forces of greedy, insatiable imperialists.