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Featuring a majestic score by Ennio Morricone and lush Oscar-winning cinematography by Chris Menges. It won the top prize at Cannes in 1986 and was nominated for a Best Film Oscar. The film is shot through with piercing, haunting imagery, pictures of enduring imaginative force. A visually stunning epic, THE MISSION recounts the true story of two men--a man of the sword Robert De Niro and a man of the cloth Jeremy Irons--both Jesuit missionaries who defied the colonial forces of mighty Spain and Portugal to save an Indian tribe from slavery in mid-18th-century South America. Mendoza De Niro is a slave trader and colonial imperialist who murdered his own brother Aidan Quinn and seeks penance for his sins by becomining a missionary at Father Gabriel's Irons mountaintop mission. The Mission is a rich and thought-provoking. It contains moving images of despair, penance, and redemption that are among the most evocative ever filmed.
Roland Joffé The Killing Fields directs this fuzzy effort at a David Lean-like epic without David Lean's sense of emotional proportion. Lean's most important screenwriting collaborator, Robert Bolt, in fact wrote The Mission, which concerns a Jesuit missionary Jeremy Irons who establishes a church in the hostile jungles of Brazil and then finds his work threatened by greed and political forces among his superiors. Robert De Niro is briefly effective as a callous soldier who kills his own brother and then turns to Irons's character to oversee his penance and conversion to the clergy. The narrative and dramatic forces at work in this movie should be more stirring and powerful than they are--the problem being that Joffé is too removed from them to allow us in. --Tom Keogh