Brian Moore here adapts his own savage, elegiac novel about the Jesuit mission to 'reap souls' among the Iroquois in 1630s Quebec. The film details the harrowing canoe trip undertaken in intense cold by idealistic Father Laforgue (Bluteau), a young carpenter named Daniel (Young) and a band of Algonquin Indians, way up into Huron territory to reach a disease-stricken outpost. It's a Conradian journey into the heart of darkness. Laforgue's mind and body are assaulted by privation, doubt, sexual arousal and horror, which sends him into faith-destroying anguish, with worse to come. The film is essentially illustrative, and Moore's screenplay understandably softens the text somewhat, but it still contains shocking scenes of torture and murder. What distinguishes the result is the brutal, clear-eyed honesty with which the Native American (and the missionary) culture is represented. Beautifully shot, too.
Cast and crew
Billy Two Rivers