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“Black Robe” by Bruce Beresford Essay


The movie Black Robe is a perfect example of early American history that represents the first interaction between the French Jesuit ministers and the Huron Indians of Quebec.

It is a seventeenth-century movie that shows the cultural and social differences in two communities referred to as the Algonquin Indians on one side and the French Jesuits on the other hand. It represents the conflict between two clashing cultures.

The movie was captured in the Canadian wilderness with the main character who is a priest by the name of Father Laforgue taking up the work of spreading the gospel among the Indians in a village called Huron, where he wanted to convert them to Christianity.

At the begging of the movie, Father Laforgue seems unflattering and unmoved in his quest to spread the word of God and help the native Indians.

He is prepared to tackle any challenge that may come along his way in his mission of spreading the gospel and helping the natives. Father Laforgue has a strong belief in God, and he believes that God is superior to all “savages.”

As the movie progresses, the main theme of cultural differences between the French Jesuits and the Algonquin becomes apparent. The Jesuits led by Father Larforgue have different systems of culture which lead them into loggerheads with each other.

A different culture is brought into perspective when Father Laforgue and another Algonquin are taken hostage by an Indian tribe.

“The movie The “Black Robe” confronts the many cultural disparities that occurred during the “conversions” of the Native American people and the consequences that transpired (Moore 2011, p. 24)”.

The first of cultural differences between the two communities are seen when they meet to exchange gifts for the help they offered Father Larfogue in his mission to Huron. The Algonquin and the Jesuits dress in their traditional clothes for the ceremony of exchanging the gifts.

“The Jesuit leader is clothed in handsome clothes made of an expensive hat, a plate of armor and a wig which represent the main fashion type during this time in Europe (Moore, 2011)”. The Algonquin leader is adorned in his ceremonial dress and has tribal paintings.

Both communities hold expensive parties where they enjoy themselves all night long. It is ironical that both communities hold an almost similar event but at the end of it, the French call the Indians Savages.

The movie shows the way of life of the Indian people, their hunting styles and the type of houses they built and the assistance they gave each other in the harsh climate.

The movie shows that the Indians had their beliefs and they had nothing to do with Jesus and the gifts Christianity had to offer.

“The most pathetic character in the movie is a “converted” Indian, whose crucifix around his neck represents not a leap of faith, but accommodation of convenience with those who could give him what he wanted (Moore 2011, p. 35)”.

The end of the movie talks about the end of the Huron people and how the Iroquois attacked them and burnt their villages. By the end of it, the Jesuits convincingly converted the Huron people to Christianity which was deemed to be a religion that does not kill.

The Huron were defenseless and as such were wiped out. All this show what happened in history and it is a good representation of the past.

Works Cited

Moore, Brian. Black Robe. New York: McClelland & Stewart, 2011. Print.

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