Film: The Mission (1986)

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Film:

The Mission

Director: Roland Joffé
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Distributor: Warner Home Video

The Mission is director Roland Joffé’s fuzzy effort at an epic in David Lean style without David Lean’s sense of emotional proportion. In fact, Lean’s most important screenwriting collaborator, Robert Bolt, 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…

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The Mission is director Roland Joffé’s fuzzy effort at an epic in David Lean style without David Lean’s sense of emotional proportion. In fact, Lean’s most important screenwriting collaborator, Robert Bolt, 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. By way of compensation, Ennio Morricone contributes one of his most evocative and admired music scores. —Tom Keogh

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