Black Robe

Black Robe

4.8 5
Director: Bruce Beresford

Cast: Bruce Beresford, Lothaire Bluteau, Aden Young, Sandrine Holt


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Adapted by Brian Moore from his own novel, The Black Robe is a sprawling recreation of a turbelent period in Canadian history. In 1634, Jesuit missionary Father Laforgue (Lothair Bluteau) arrives in the New World, hoping to convert the Huron Indian tribe to Catholicism-and, incidentally, to expedite the French colonization of Quebec. Laforgue is regarded with a


Adapted by Brian Moore from his own novel, The Black Robe is a sprawling recreation of a turbelent period in Canadian history. In 1634, Jesuit missionary Father Laforgue (Lothair Bluteau) arrives in the New World, hoping to convert the Huron Indian tribe to Catholicism-and, incidentally, to expedite the French colonization of Quebec. Laforgue is regarded with a combination of warmth and wariness by the natives, who refer to Laforgue and his fellow priests as "black robes." Offering his services as both guide and friend is Algonquin chief Chomina (August Schellenberg). The by-the-book Laforgue does little to endear himself to the Indians-one of whom, a holy man, labels the priest as a demon who will bring nothing but death and destruction. The one who suffers most is Chomina, the man who most desires peaceful coexistence. In an ironic coda, we learn that the "black robes" have set into motion the fall of the Hurons, simply by imposing their Christian values upon them. Black Robe has been compared to Dances with Wolves, but the films do not share the same philosophy: while the idealistic hero of Wolves strives to understand and appreciate his new Indian comrades, the pious protagonist of Black Robe has only conversion in mind.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
Australian director Bruce Beresford continued his fascination with clashes of cultures and beliefs in this historical drama. Beresford had previously enjoyed much success exploring the same theme in such films as Breaker Morant (1980), Tender Mercies (1982), The Fringe Dwellers (1986), and the much-loved, Oscar-winning Driving Miss Daisy (1989). None of these well-regarded efforts could have prepared him for the public's indifference to Black Robe. Coming on the heels of the hugely successful, politically correct revisionism of Dances with Wolves (1990), the unflinching Black Robe, which presents its characters as ugly, violent, fearful, and complexly motivated, may have seemed too reactionary and too grim. While it took in slightly more than eight million dollars at the box office and did not get its director any honorary tribal memberships, many historians and critics hailed the veracity of the film, and it slowly attained cult classic status. The stunningly high level of attention to anthropological detail extends to such minutiae as how the Huron and Algonquin ate, hunted, traveled, courted, mated, slept, procreated, and even how they fulfilled certain bodily functions (much to the main character's dismay). Despite its lack of financial success and its controversial bleakness, Black Robe belongs in the elite ranks of such respected films about Native Americans as Little Big Man (1970), A Man Called Horse (1970), and Smoke Signals (1998).

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Vidmark / Trimark

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lothaire Bluteau Father Laforgue
Aden Young Daniel
Sandrine Holt Annuka
August Schellenberg Chomina
Tantoo Cardinal Chomina's Wife
Frank Wilson Father Jerome
Billy Two Rivers Ougebmat
Lawrence Bayne Neehatin
Harrison Liu Awondoie
Yvan Labelle Mestigoit
Jonathon Blacksmith Algonquin Tribe Member
Joseph Campean Algonquin Tribe Member
Earl Danyluk Algonquin Tribe Member
Valerie de Contie Algonquin Tribe Member
Joe de Laronde Tall Painted Iroquois
Wesley Cote Oujita
Francois Tasse Father Bourque
Jean Brousseau Champlain
Raoul Trujillo Kiotseaton
James Bobbish Ondesson
Denis Lacroix Taratande
Gilles Plante Older Workman
Gordon Tootoosis Old Aenons
Claude Prefontaine Old Priest
Deano Clavet Mercier
Paul Stewart Workman
Jean-Raymond Chales Workman
Jean-Jacques Blanchet Workman
Marco Bacon Montagnais
Patrick Tenasco Montagnais
George Pachanos Iroquois Leader
Minor Mustain 1st Iroquois
Don Brisebois Iroquois Guard
Jean-Baptiste Raphael Iroquois Elder
Guy Provencher Old Iroquois Member
Linlyn Lue She Manitou
Bonfield Marcoux Domergue
Wanda Obomsawin Pregnant Woman
Jean-Pierre Perusse Tallevant
Gerard Soler Masse
Alison Reid Iroquois Torture Woman
Brenda Adams Iroquois Torture Woman
Denis Plante Musician
Daniel Thonon Musician
Cordelia Beresford Mile La Fontaine
Helen Atkinson Algonquin Tribe Member
Annie Bearskin Algonquin Tribe Member
Rodrigue Boivin Algonquin Tribe Member
Arnold Eyah-Saulteux Algonquin Tribe Member
Waylon Hare Algonquin Tribe Member
Zoe Hopkins Algonquin Tribe Member
Walter Jacobs Algonquin Tribe Member
Eric Johnston Algonquin Tribe Member
Mirya Obomsawin Algonquin Tribe Member
Doreen Stevens Algonquin Tribe Member
John Tenasco Algonquin Tribe Member
Marthe Turgeon Laforgue's Mother
Roger Wylde Algonquin Tribe Member

Technical Credits
Bruce Beresford Director
Renee April Costumes/Costume Designer
Louis Craig Special Effects
Georges Delerue Score Composer
Jake Eberts Executive Producer
Pedro Gandol Asst. Director
Linda Gill Makeup
John Hay Costumes/Costume Designer
Denis Heroux Executive Producer
Robert Lantos Producer
Sue Milliken Producer
Gavin Mitchell Art Director
Brian Moore Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Minor Mustain Stunts
Eric Norlen Associate Producer
Peter James Cinematographer
Herbert Pinter Production Designer
Réal Proulx Set Decoration/Design
Stéphane Reichel Producer
Tim Wellburn Editor
Gary Wilkins Sound/Sound Designer


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Black Robe 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This show is a gripping and realistic depiction of life in the 1600's when jesuit priests came to tame the so called uncivilized cultures. It may appear slow at times, but I believe that assists the viewer to appreciate the pace of life in the 1600's in the middle of a wilderness. The photography is outstanding. (Canada, you are beautiful!) It allows the viewer to experience history through film. I don't think anyone could see this show and ever forget that timeline in history due to the presentation of the theme. Midnight Express impacts a person in the same way. Black Robe is NOT for young viewers, as there are some brutal scenes. I believe it's worth seeing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The All Movie Guide review gives some decent content, but its comments miss the point of this beautiful, jarring but ultimately sad film about early French proselytizing of the Algonquin and Hurons (with a guest appearance by the ferocious so-called Iroquois). The ultimate point of Father LaForgue's horrendous faraway journey is to serve the needs of the people created by God to live in that place. Here there is no religious misunderstanding whatsoever. But the missionary arrives to find yet another dead priest, and another on his way out of this world, both of whom LaForgue ends up burying in the frozen ground. The denouement includes the mutual recognition that this priest also will die in the feared wilderness, while the band of Huron people at whose service he places himself ask but one thing: the love, NOT THE IMPERIALISM, he has to bring. To compare this film to the cartoonish, Kevin Costner-dressing-up-as-Native-American-warrior movie ''Dances With Wolves'' is to liken Buffy Sainte-Marie to Tonto. ''Black Robe'' is as close to cutting-edge history as most films get, mainly because it is derived from Brian Moore's excellent novel of the same name. Although it is debilitating to see how faith and love can be crushed by accident and circumstance, this view is often necessary for our best look into the future.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie rates highly with me. It is based on actual work by Jesuits in Canada. As a decendant of both Miami and Shawnee Indians, I was thrilled to see some portryal of the native tribes in the Far North for a change. I would like to see more movies about incidents involving Indian peoples East of the Missouri. We have enought of the war bonnet and Western movies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film could easily be about the huge moral issues surrounding a story of Jesuit missionaries and Huron people, but it's really about what that story would have looked and felt like. The moral issues take a back seat to the contrasts between natural beauty and human squalor, or the differences between spiritual ideals and the brutality of earthly existence. The film is so eerily realistic it's like having a camcorder present in history. No detail is omitted and no subject too sacred---we even see the priest needing to defecate from a paddled canoe, to the great amusement of onlookers. An enormous amount of research and fact-checking must have taken place, and the director is extra-careful to remind the viewer at every opportunity just how harsh things were in a Canadian frontier of the 17th century. And for anybody who sits through this film expecting some form of moral redemption at its conclusion, don't bother---the end is a hammer blow. I haven't read the novel, but I bet director Bruce Beresford is as faithful to the author's vision as it's possible to be. This is a film of uncommon integrity and honesty. Be warned.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Often Black Robe is unfortunately compared to Dances With Wolves. Black Robe was much more truthful and ultimately more disturbing. This movie does not play the overly politically correct version as films like Dances with Wolves, but it also doesn't curtail to John Ford films, either. A very impressive film about clash of cultures that lead to the genocide of North America's indigenous population. Also doesn't shy away from some of the brutal practices of the Native American.