Mission (movie)

Mission or Mission to Quebec ( The Mission ) is a drama historic British directed by Roland Joffe , released in 1986 . He receives the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 1986 . The film depicts the drama of consciousness experienced by the Jesuits in the eighteenth century when they are forced to abandon their mission to the Guarani people in South America.


In the middle of the xviii th century, the Cardinal Altamirano Apostolic Visitor of the Jesuit missions in South America , wrote his report to the pope. As he writes, he reviews what he has learned in recent months. A priest Jesuit Spanish ventured into the rainforest in order to evangelize the Indians : a difficult approach to work but managed through the creation of a musical schoolhigh-level, originally indispensable for religious services, but whose need also appears central in the process of education and human development. Designed on the model of the many musical schools spread throughout the West, it will become an element of autonomy, and finally here, an act of resistance.

The Jesuit priest is soon joined by a converted slave hunter seeking redemption. The priest visits several missions to Cardinal Altamirano who is impressed by the quality of development and life he discovers.

At the end of his stay, the prelate reveals the decision, which in fact had been made even before his arrival in South America: the Jesuits must leave the cuts . The priest and brother Rodrigo refuse to abandon the Guarani . In a different way, they organize the resistance to the assault of the Portuguese army coming to apply the agreements, signed in Europe, of division of the lands between Spaniards and Portuguese. The mission is destroyed: the Guarani return to the forest.

The cardinal concludes his report: “And so, Your holiness … your priests are dead … and I … alive. But in truth, I am dead … while they are alive. For it is always so, Your holiness. The spirit of the dead survives … in the memory of the living ” .

This film tells in two hours the 150 years of history of the Guaraníes reductions, kind of autonomous republics created by the Jesuits and first approved by the Spanish colonial power, on the borders of Paraguay , Argentina and Brazil . He also refers to the Guarani War of 1754-1756.

Technical sheet

  • French title: Mission
  • Original title: The Mission
  • Québec title: The Mission
  • Scenario: Robert Bolt
  • Sets: Stuart Craig
  • Costume: Enrico Sabbatini
  • Photography: Chris Menges
  • Editing: Jim Clark
  • Format: 35mm color film – Panavision – Ratio : 2,35: 1 – Kodak
  • Original music: Ennio Morricone
  • Special Effects: Peter Hutchinson, Peter Crawley, Peter Fern, Marco Yepes, Andrew Smith
  • Production: Fernando Ghia, David Puttnam
  • Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Distribution companies: Warner Bros. Pictures / AMLF
  • Budget: $ 17,218,000
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Drama , historical
  • Duration: 126 minutes
  • Release dates:
    •  France :( Cannes Film Festival 1986 ); (exit)
    •  Canada :


  • Robert De Niro (VF: Jacques Frantz ) : Rodrigo Mendoza
  • Jeremy Irons (VF: Edgar Givry ) : Brother Gabriel
  • Ray McAnally (VF: Raymond Gérôme ) : Cardinal Altamirano “His Eminence”
  • Aidan Quinn : Felipe Mendoza
  • Cherie Lunghi : Carlotta
  • Ronald Pickup : Hontar
  • Chuck Low : Cabeza ( Head )
  • Liam Neeson (VF: Julien Thomast ) : Fielding
  • Daniel Berrigan : Sebastian
  • Bercelio Moya : an Indian boy
  • Sigifredo Ismare : the sorcerer
  • Asuncion Ontiveros : the Indian chief
  • Alejandrino Moya : the second leader
  • Rolf Gray : a young Jesuit
  • Álvaro Guerrero : a Jesuit

Awards and Distinctions


  • Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 1986
  • BAFTA Awards, 1987 Ennio Morricone, Jim Clark, Ray McAnally


  • American Cinema Editors, USA, 1987 (Jim Clark)
  • American Society of Cinematographers, USA, 1987 Chris Menges
  • British Society of Cinematographers 1986
  • BAFTA Film Award 1987
  • César , France, 1987 Roland Joffé Best foreign film


The film won the Oscar for Best Photography in 1987.

He was nominated for six other Oscars the same year:

  • Oscar for the best film
  • Oscar for Best Artistic Direction
  • Oscar for Best Director
  • Oscar for the best costume design
  • Oscar for the best editing
  • Oscar for the best film music


Main article: Mission (soundtrack) .

Around the film

  • The spectacular opening scene of the film was shot at the Iguazú Falls .
  • The film’s budget is estimated at $ 24,500,000 .
  • The true Guaranis being too acculturated and few, the director found the Waunana ethnic group to ensure the figuration and the roles of Indians. This people, little affected by Western culture, live in Colombia , on the banks of the San Juan River in the Choco region . Three villages, representing about 1500 people (men, women and children), were moved to the scene of the filming where their living environment was reconstituted on the Don Diego River, on the banks of the Siera Nevada, 1500 km away. 1 .
  • The film was largely shot at the Iguazú National Park in Argentina .
  • Most of the team members contracted dysentery during filming. Robert De Niro is one of the few who has not suffered.

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Interview with Roland Joffe in a documentary included on DVD bonus (collector’s edition).

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