The Mission (1986) Script

Your Holiness, the little matter that brought me here is now settled.

The Indians are free to be enslaved by the Spanish and Portuguese settlers.

I don't think that's hitting the right note. Begin again.

Your Holiness, I write to you in this year of our Lord 1758...

...from the southern continent of the Americas, from the town of Asunción...

...two weeks' march from the great mission of San Miguel.

The missions have protected the Indians from the depredations of the settlers...

...and have earned much resentment because of it.

The noble souls of these Indians incline towards music.

Indeed, many a violin played in the academies of Rome...

...have been made by their nimble and gifted hands.

It was from these missions the Jesuit fathers carried the word of God... those Indians still existing in their natural state...

...and received in return... martyrdom.

The death of this priest was to form the first link... the chain of which I now find myself a part.

Continue. As Your Holiness undoubtedly knows...

...little in this world unfolds as we predict.

How could the Indians have supposed that the death of that unsung priest...

...would bring them a man whose life was to become intertwined with theirs?

Thank you, Father.

It was our territory. Julien's and mine.

I sent him, Father. I have to go up there myself.

Can you see him?


With an orchestra...

...the Jesuits could have subdued the whole continent.

So it was that the Guarani were brought finally to account... the everlasting mercy of God...

...and to the short-lived mercy of man.

Who are you?

So you're hunting above the falls now, Captain Mendoza?

We're building a mission here.

We'll make Christians of these people. If you have the time.

Manuel! Manuel!


It's your brother.

Alonzo, are they healthy? Excellent.


Are there many above the falls? Yes.

Dangerous? Yes.

Not against powder and shot. No.

I've seen Jesuits there.

Above the falls? Yes.

Damn them.

The mission is to be called San Carlos.

Don Cabeza. Mendoza.

Alonzo! Alonzo!

Take them away. Quickly. Quickly now.

You should find a good woman.

I have.

If you had, you wouldn't look so gloomy.

Maybe you're right. About women, I'm always right.

How could I forget? You forget everything.

I do, do I? You do.


Good. Whoa!


Good. Now take them off. Ah.

You distract too easily.

On the day the señorita can't distract my attention...

...I'll become a monk. On that day, Felipe...

...half the ladies in this town will become nuns.

Pure gossip. Rodrigo is the lady's man.

Rodrigo here is this lady's man.


I love him, Rodrigo.

Since when have you loved Felipe?

Six months.

Six--? I've been trying to tell you.

I have.

Yes, yes, yes, yes. You have been trying to tell me.


So me you do not love?

Not as I love Felipe.

Rodrigo, that's the love that I need. I see.

And so I have no need?

You need so much.

You deserve so much.

Rodrigo, you won't hurt him, will you?

No, I won't hurt him.

Rodrigo! Rodrigo!

Rodrigo, please.

You laughed. I did not laugh.

Most certainly you did. Rodrigo, please.

At whom are you laughing? Don't do this.

Rodrigo! Quarrel with me!

Oh, no!

So how goes it at your mission above the falls?

Insects and twigs, Father. No converts?

A few.

And many near to it, thank the Lord. Thank the Lord, indeed.

Do you know Rodrigo Mendoza? Yes, I know him.

Come with me.

I have a task, and you are the only one who can do it.

He's been here for six months, but he won't see anybody.

I think he wants to die.

So... killed your brother.

And it was a duel. And the law can't touch you.

Is this remorse?



Maybe you wish I was your executioner. Perhaps that would be easier.

Leave me alone.

You know what I am. Yes.

You're a mercenary, you're a slave trader...

...and you killed your brother. I know.

And you loved him.

Although you chose a strange way to show it.

Are you laughing at me? Are you laughing at me?

I'm laughing at you...

...because all I see is laughable.

I see a man running away, a man hiding from the world. I see a coward.

Go on.

Go on.

So is that it? Is this how you mean to go on?

There is nothing else. There is life.

There is no life. There is a way out, Mendoza.

For me, there is no redemption.

God gave us the burden of freedom. You chose your crime.

Do you have the courage to choose your penance? Do you dare do that?

There is no penance hard enough for me.

But do you dare try it? Do I dare?

Do you dare to see it fail?

Father? Aye?

How long must he carry that stupid thing?

God knows, Father John.

Ralph, here. Thank you.


He's done this penance long enough. The other brothers think the same.

But he doesn't think so, John.

Until he does, neither do I.

We're not the members of a democracy, Father. We're members of an order.



Thank you.

Thank you, Lord, for our food and all your other blessings. Amen.

Oh, good Lord.

Did you cook this? Yes.

Did you put in all the chilies?

I'm afraid I did.

I'm sorry. I was trained as a mercenary, not as a cook.

This is true. It's dreadful.

But the bread is good. It's not bad.

Father, I want to thank you for having me here.

You should thank the Guarani.


Read this.

"Though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains...

...and have not love, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor...

...and though I give my body to be burned...

...and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

Love suffereth long and is kind.

Love envieth not.

Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.

When I was a child, I spake as a child...

...I understood as a child, I thought as a child.

But when I became a man, I put away childish things.

But now abideth faith, hope, love... These three.

But the greatest of these is love."

They've agreed.

If you're going to become a Jesuit, you must accept my orders... if they were the orders of a commander. Can you do that?

Yes, Father.

Let us pray for our brother Rodrigo.

Christ, you led Father Ignatius to renounce the snares of this world...

...and to put on the livery of labor and humiliation.

Now we ask your blessing on Rodrigo as we welcome him into our community.

Teach him to be generous, to labor and not to count the cost... serve with no reward, save the doing of your will.

Amen. Amen.


Welcome home, brother.

This seeking to create a paradise on earth... easily it offends.

Your Holiness is offended...

...because it may distract from that paradise which comes hereafter.

The Spanish and Portuguese kings are offended...

...because a paradise of the poor is seldom pleasing to those who rule.

And the settlers here are offended for the same reason.

So it was this burden I carried to South America:

To satisfy the Portuguese wish to enlarge their empire... satisfy the Spanish desire that this would do them no harm... satisfy Your Holiness...

...that these monarchs would threaten no more the power of the church...

...and to ensure for you all...

...that the Jesuits here could no longer deny you these satisfactions.

I've spent half my life waiting for Rome.

Stop playing with that.

What time is it? Calm down.

Ten to.

Let me see how the children are doing.




Over there, please.

Those are Guarani? Yes, Your Eminence.

Extraordinary. What?

Very difficult to tell what they're thinking.

Have you found this, Señor Hontar? I have.

I had that reaction when I first came, Your Eminence.

Pretty creature. She'll fetch a lot of money in Lisbon.

Yes. Well, perhaps she doesn't want to go to Lisbon.

Perhaps not.

Well, Your Eminence, as to the missions...

We expect no political difference between the Papacy, Spain and Portugal?

Why should there be?

Between ourselves, Your Eminence, the Jesuits are too powerful here.


Well, if you'll excuse me, gentlemen...

Your Eminence.

By the way, gentlemen...

...I myself was a Jesuit once.

So I had arrived in South America... head replete with the matters of Europe.

But I soon began to understand, for the first time...

...what a strange world I had been sent to judge.

Don Cabeza, how can you possibly refer to this child as an animal?

A parrot can be taught to sing, Your Eminence.

Yes, but how does one teach it to sing as melodiously as this?

Your Eminence.

This is a child of the jungle, an animal with a human voice.

If it were human, an animal would cringe at its vices.

These creatures are lethal and lecherous.

They have to be subdued by the sword and brought to labor by the whip.

What they say is sheer nonsense.

Father Gabriel, of the mission...

...of San Carlos, from which the boy comes.

And that is where?

That is here. Above the falls, in Spanish territory.

No, that is territory which used to be Spanish. Now it's Portuguese.

That is for His Eminence to decide. No, that is a state matter.

It was decided by the Treaty of Madrid and concluded by Spain and Portugal.

But surely the missions will remain under church protection?

That is what His Eminence is here to decide, Father Gabriel.

Continue, Father.

Your Eminence, below the falls, the jungle, if it has to be divided...

...may be divided between the Spanish and Portuguese.

But above the falls, it still belongs to God and the Guarani.

There's no one else there. And they are not naturally animals.

They're naturally spiritual. Spiritual?

They kill their own young. That is true. May I answer that?

Every man and woman is allowed one child. If a third is born, it is killed.

But this is not some animal rite. It's a necessity for survival.

They can only run with one child apiece.

And what do they run from? They run from us.

That is, they run from slavery. Rubbish.

It is well-known-- Rubbish. Your Eminence?

Your Eminence?

Rubbish. Rubbish.

Your Eminence. Silence.

In the territories covered by Spain, there is no slavery.

That institution is permitted in the territories of our neighbors...

...the Portuguese, and is, to my mind, much misunderstood.

But here, in Spanish territory...

...we run our plantation in accordance with the laws of Spain...

...and the precepts of the church.

That is a lie.

That is a lie!

I cannot and will not accept a challenge from a monk.

His cloth protects him. My cloth protects you.

In the name of the king, I demand an apology!

I want an apology now! Damn you, I won't stand for this!

Your Eminence, we've just seen a good example of Jesuit contempt...

...for the authority of the state.

Member of your community, Father Gabriel?



That was perfect. What?

A flash of Jesuit temper was just what we needed him to see.

What do you mean? Be patient, will you?

All we need is a little patience. He knows what to do.

You will apologize to Don Cabeza. What he said was a lie.

Silence. You will apologize. Go now.

What was he before he joined you? A mercenary and slave trader.

Will he apologize? Yes, he will.

You should know that the Spanish do have slaves here.

They buy them from the Portuguese, amongst others.

And Don Cabeza connives at this? Yes.

Profits by it too.

Don Cabeza wants the mission territories taken over by the Portuguese. Why?

Because the missions are the only sanctuary left for the Guarani.

Without the shelter we provide under Spanish law...

...the Indians have no protection against slavery.

They come to us of their own free will.

Truly? Ask them. Ask the Guarani.

Nine-tenths of what they earn goes back into the community, into their lives.

Father Gabriel, what do you think is at issue here?

The work of God is at issue. No, what is at issue... the very existence of the Jesuit order, both here and in Europe.

And I assure you that the courts of Europe are a jungle... comparison with which your jungle here is a tidy garden.

But is that to stand in our way?

Thank you.

But why must I apologize? Why? Because I order it.

It was a lie. Nevertheless, I order it.

Don Cabeza hates Jesuits and Indians. He and the Portuguese are ruthless.

Can't you see that? Of course.

Then why must I apologize? What better excuse can we give them...

...but that one of our order, albeit a novice, publicly insults one of them?

Now, you will apologize.

Or are you no longer a Jesuit?

By order of holy obedience, without reservation...

...I ask Don Cabeza to pardon my presumption and my insolence.

Well, I accept.

Why not?

But as I said before, I cannot accept a challenge from a priest.

True, which makes my insolence all the more insolent...

...and your pardon twice as gracious.

Your Eminence, I ask your pardon too.

I ask the pardon of this assembly. I ask for the pardon of my brothers.

And I ask for your pardon...

...for insulting His Excellency. Thank you, that will do.

Well, that was most gratifying, Your Eminence.

Do you think you could tell us about your attitude to the transference...

...of the missions' territories?


I have kept these matters in the front of my mind ever since I came here.

But I do not think I should make a final decision...

...until I have seen these mission territories with my own eyes.

There are numerous missions that I should inspect.

But I have decided that I shall begin with the oldest...

...the great mission of San Miguel.

Your Holiness, a surgeon, to save the body...

...must often hack off a limb.

But, in truth, nothing had prepared me for the beauty and the power...

...of the limb that I had come here to sever.

Very impressive. Perhaps I'm missing something.

I can't see any difference between this plantation and my own.

That is the difference. This plantation is theirs.

Your Eminence.

This is another difference.

A runaway slave. Bought by a Spanish settler from a slave trader.

I see. Is that lawful?

Supply and demand is the law of trade.

And the law of souls? What's a few cuts...

...compared with what you offer them? Torments of hell? Imprisoned souls?

Think of that, Your Eminence.

Father Ibaye, shall we continue?

What was your income last year?

Last year, 120,000 escudos.

And how was it distributed?

It is shared among them equally. This is a community.

There is a French radical group that teaches that doctrine.

Your Eminence, it was the doctrine of the early Christians.

Well, I am inexpressibly impressed by your achievement, Father.

And will that save us? I hope it may, Father.

The court of Portugal is atheistic, but we are Catholics.

And you serve a Christian king. I also serve a Catholic king.

You serve the Marquis of Pombal, who is hostile to the church...

...and rules your king.

I suggest we ask your king to postpone the transfer of the mission territories...

...until Portugal guarantees their survival.

And I suggest we do this in the hope of heaven...

...through the intercession of our merciful Redeemer.

In my opinion, the work of the missions is the work of the devil.

They teach contempt for lawful profit, and they disobey the king's authority.

The paramount vow of a Jesuit is a vow of obedience.

Then let them obey. Tell them, Your Eminence.

Your Eminence, am I disturbing you?

I fear I have bad tidings from the Marquis of Pombal.

Between ourselves, I should like to express my personal regret.

He is determined to destroy the power of the church.

And your Christian community is commercially competitive.

Yes. It's very prosperous.

Isn't that precisely why you want to take it over?

You should've achieved a noble failure if you wanted the state's approval.

There's nothing we like better than a noble failure.

It's deeply reassuring to a trading nation such as my own.

You're not going to read it?

I don't need to read it to know what it contains.

So, what will you do?

As my conscience dictates.

What else?

He's been in there five hours.

Come with me to my mission in San Carlos.

There are so many distractions here.

It's hard to see anything clearly.

I think that, there, your prayers might meet with better fortune.

I think, there, God would tell you what it would be good to do.

And he'd give you the strength and the grace to do it...

...whatever it costs you.

The Garden of Eden.

It's a trifle overgrown.

Though I knew, in Europe, states were...

...tearing at the authority of the church...

...and though I knew that to preserve itself there...

...the church must show its authority over the Jesuits here...

...I had to wonder whether these Indians would not have preferred...

...that the sea and wind had not brought any of us to them.

They say they don't understand what you mean.

They want you to speak more clearly. What do you want them to do?

They must leave the mission.

They say the mission is their home.

They must learn to submit to the will of God.

Tell them.

They say it was the will of God...

...that they left the jungle and built the mission.

They don't understand why God has changed his mind.

I cannot hope to understand God's reasons.

He says, how does he know you know God's will?

He thinks you speak not for God, but for Portugal.

I do not personally speak for God, but I speak for the church...

...which is God's instrument on earth.

He says, speak to the king of Portugal. I have. He will not listen.

He said he is also a king. He also will not listen.

He says they were wrong ever to have trusted us.

They're going to fight.

You must persuade them not to fight.

I have failed to persuade you to fight on their behalf.

If they do fight, it is imperative that no one of you...

...should even seemed to have encouraged them to do so.

And therefore, all of you will return with me to Asunción tomorrow.

If anyone should disobey this, he will be excommunicated.

Cut off. Cast out.

Why must they fight?

Why can't they return to the jungle? Because this is their home.

Did you know this was going to be your decision?

Yes. Why did you come, Your Eminence?

To persuade you not to resist...

...the transfer of the mission territories.

If the Jesuits resist the Portuguese...

...the Jesuit order will be expelled from Portugal.

And if Portugal, then Spain, France, Italy... Who knows?

If your order is to survive at all...

...the missions here must be sacrificed.

What were they saying?

They said the devil lives in the forest.

They want to stay here. And what did you say?

I said I'd stay with them.

I want to renounce my vows of obedience.

Get out.

I want to explain-- Get out. I won't listen to you.

Just you?

No. It's Ralph and John too.

What do you want, captain, an honorable death?

They want to live, Father.

They say that God has left them, he's deserted them.

Has he?

You shouldn't have become a priest. But I am, and they need me.

Then help them as a priest!

If you die with blood on your hands, you betray everything we've done.

You promised your life to God. And God is love!


Weren't you supposed to be on guard last night?

Look what happened!

Get back there with the others.

They've taken three guns, gunpowder, pistols...

...and I don't know what else.


Father, I've come to ask you to bless me.


If you're right, you'll have God's blessing.

If you're wrong, my blessing won't mean anything.

If might is right...

...then love has no place in the world.

It may be so.

But I don't have the strength to live in a world like that.

I can't bless you.


Down there. Down there.

Bring up both cannons.

Quickly. Quickly.

The other cannon as well.


Indians! Turn around!

Turn around! Face them!


We'll have to move the cannon.

Move this cannon. Move it. And that one.

Over there. Shoot the priest. Get him!

None of us wants to do this. I'm not interested. Get in position.


After him! Faster!

Don't let the priest get away!

After him!

Look out! The falls! Halt!

Back! Back! Halt!

Go back!


And you have the effrontery to tell me that this slaughter was necessary?

I did what I had to do.

Given the legitimate purpose, which you sanctioned...

...I would have to say, yes. In truth, yes.

You had no alternative, Your Eminence.

We must work in the world.

The world is thus.

No, Señor Hontar...

...thus have we made the world.

Thus have I made it.

So, Your Holiness... your priests are dead, and I am left alive.

But, in truth, it is I who am dead, and they who live.

For, as always, Your Holiness...

...the spirit of the dead will survive... the memory of the living.