Spanish Jesuit Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) travels to the South American wilderness to build a mission in order to convert native Indians. Slave hunter Rodrigo Mendoza (Robert De Niro) is converted and joins Irons in his mission.
When Spain sells the colony to Portugal, both must defend the mission against the Portuguese aggressors.
Director Roland Joffe and producer David Puttnam followed the international success of The Killing Fields (1984) with this epic story of the confrontation between missionaries and colonisers in the jungles of South America.
While undeniably spectacular and featuring committed performances by De Niro and Irons, The Mission was not as well received as the production team’s previous film.
It is, in part, an epistolary epic, employing the device of letters to explain what happened to the mission founded by Father Gabriel and which Mendoza, who killed his brother, has joined.
The missionaries crave a society in which Christian natives will live peacefully with Spanish and Portuguese alike. But the colonial governors would rather enslave the Indians and order the destruction of the mission.
Gabriel and Mendoza disagree on how to respond: one believing in the power of prayer and passive resistance, the other in armed rebellion.
Robert De Niro