Caught up in the midst of a conflict between conquest and religion, where politics and humanity are at odds, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, and Robert DeNiro play three priests running a mission for the native population in South America. Their very existence comes under threat when the land becomes the subject of a dispute between anti-slavery Spain and proslavery Portugal.
With direction by Roland Jaffe, a well-written script by John Bolt, who also wrote films such as Dr. Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia, along with cinematography by Chris Menges come a powerful and skillful crew who pull together to make a film to remember. One of the most iconic elements of the entire piece, of course, is the soundtrack, famously composed by Ennio Morricone with haunting pipe music echoing its way throughout the entire feature.
The film is never remembered as a perfect film by any means, few are, what can be said for it however is that: even thirty-four years after its release it is still a visual wonder to behold. Some of the elements of the story are often forgotten; perhaps unfairly so, but what does endure are the visual aspects. Equally there is no particular standout performance. The members of the tribe are mostly represented by a mainly faceless ensemble and it is as an ensemble that the cast is best remembered. Jeremy Irons in noble and wise, seen as the head figure of the mission but too willing to be obedient to those above him. Robert De Nero on the other-hand is rash and impulsive and although he is willing to take up arms to save the mission, has no influence in any other way over the hierarchy of the church. It is perhaps left primarily up to Ray McAnaly to show leadership but he is too involved in the politics to make an impartial and courageous enough decision. These factors add up together to lead to the films ultimate ending and it is these factors which make The Mission as compelling a watch as ever.