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Roland Joffé’s beautiful, thematically complex tale of a priest, a warrior and a tribe striving to defend a Jesuit mission amid political upheaval in 18th-century South America.

Jesuit priest Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) enters the Guarani lands in South America with the purpose of converting the natives to Christianity. He soon builds a successful mission, where he and Rodrigo Mendoza (Robert De Niro)—a reformed slave trader seeking redemption—must unite with the Guarani and defend all they have built against Portuguese slavers.

Roland Joffé’s 1986 epic is a depiction of the people, politics and events which followed Spain surrendering part of Jesuit Paraguay to pro-slavery Portugal. The film is a powerful and sadly accurate illustration of the destruction of South American native culture, and this challenging story is juxtaposed sublimely with guarded cinematography, drenched in real rainforest. Ennio Morricone’s magnificent score is both perfect for the film and has a surprising legacy of its own, frequently featuring in modern retrospectives of film music.


This screening will be introduced by broadcaster and cultural historian Professor Sir Christopher Frayling.

Part of the Science Museum Group