Black Robe | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Black Robe

This film about the clash of cultures is set in New France, circa 1634.

Black Robe

This film about the clash of cultures is set in New France, circa 1634. A Jesuit priest, Father Laforgue (Lothaire Bluteau), the "black robe" of the title, is sent by Samuel de Champlain on a perilous journey from the colonial outpost of Québec City to the settlement of Huronia, on the shores of Georgian Bay. Laforgue's purpose is to convert the Huron to Catholicism, which eventually brings about the downfall of the Huron nation. He is accompanied by Daniel (Aden Young), a young carpenter who seeks adventure and speaks the language, and a party of Algonquin guides led by Chomina (August Schellenberg) and his wife (Tantoo Cardinal). As they travel deep into the heartland of Canada's magnificent countryside, Laforgue must fight for his life while attempting to preserve his religious beliefs. He is shaken, but remains true to his faith while his party is massacred by a marauding band of Iroquois, and Daniel is seduced by the beautiful daughter of Chomina (Sandrine Holt) and chooses to go his own way. Laforgue's physical and spiritual journey leads him to a greater understanding of, and newfound respect for, the people he set out to convert

Based on the novel by Brian Moore, who also wrote the screenplay, Black Robe is a remarkably balanced film. It is a sympathetic portrait of First Nations culture and beliefs, while in turn it does not denigrate the attempts by the Europeans to convert "the savages." Produced by Robert Lantos, it won Genie Awards for best picture, director (Australian Bruce Beresford), adapted screenplay, supporting actor (Schellenberg), cinematography, and art direction. It also won the Golden Reel Award for the highest-grossing Canadian film of 1991 and the Australian Film Institute Award for cinematography.