Black Robe

Dir: Bruce Beresford
1991
Bruce Beresford’s gloomy film of a French Jesuit priest (Lothaire Bluteau) traveling into the wilds of 1600s Quebec
to find that God ain’t gonna save him from the weather, the Iroquoi, or his own righteous hubris. Scott and myself gave this a look on the weekend as its setting ties into the script we’re writing, and though the plot was a bit tepid, the historical details, costumes, and set design were all intriguing to us. The film is often cited as a refreshing antidote to the “noble white man” of Dances With Wolves, but the main character is so stuffy and unbending, we just watch him get buffeted about by fate and by the tribe who live more realistically within their surroundings. Trouble is, we follow him to the end, a disease-overrun tribal outpost in the snowy north, where he finally convinces the tribe there to be baptised. Some reward.
A shaman, played by a little person with yellow-green fright mask make-up, and who follows whitey around shouting “Demon! Demon!” provided (unintentional?) comic relief, and the young Algonquin woman, Annuka (Sandrine Holt) was cute as the dickens. Unlike the uptight Jesuit, traveling companion Daniel (Aiden Young) was down for a bit of doggie-style cross-pollination with Annuka inside the teepee.

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