'Black Robe' is cloaked in spirituality

On movies

November 22, 1991|By Lou Cedrone

Add Bruce Beresford to those directors who like to do things differently from their previous films.

Beresford moves miles away from ''Driving Miss Daisy'' in ''Black Robe,'' a consistently engrossing, softly stated (save for a few frames here and there) film that combines adventure with spirituality.

The movie, based on a book by Brian Moore, takes place in 1634 when a young priest and his companion leave France for Quebec.

They hope to take Christianity to the Huron Indians, to convince the Hurons that the Christian version of paradise is better than theirs.

The Indians who help the men reach their destination are very human. Some want to kill the ''demon'' priest and his companion. Others want to see them to the Huron settlement. Along they way, all are attacked by unfriendly Indians who torture, maim and murder some of their captives.

The priest and others escape their captors, continue their trek and make it to the Huron territory, only to discover that many of the tribe have died and the lone priest is close to death.

There is some discussion about the legitimacy of the Christian paradise versus the Indian notion of paradise. It is the younger man who tells the older priest that the Indian religion is no sillier than ''sitting on a cloud and looking at God.''

Later, the older priest repeats this statement, but theology is not really what ''Black Robe'' is about. Primarily, it is about adventure as two men of God see it.

Shot on locations in Canada, ''Black Robe'' includes some spectacular footage. The scenery, in fact, is so impressive it sometimes overwhelms the actors.

''Black Robe'' is an interesting combination of ideology and action. You may shiver while you watch, but you will not be disinterested.

Lothaire Bluteau, of Canada, is Father Laforgue, the priest who will bring God to the heathens. Aden Young is Daniel, the young man who accompanies him, and Sandrine Holt is the beauteous Indian girl who is attracted to the younger man.

''Black Robe'' opens here today.


''Black Robe'' *** A French priest hopes to convert a tribe of Huron Indians to Christianity in 1634.

CAST: Lothaire Bluteau, Aden Young, Sandrine Holt

DIRECTOR: Bruce Beresford

NO RATING: (sex, nudity, violence)

) RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

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