The Mission Movie, Historical Review

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The Mission The Mission is a fictionalized account of the historical events that took place following the signing of the Treaty of Madrid in 1750. This treaty renegotiated the Tordesillas Line established by the Spaniards and Portuguese in 1494, and allowed the Portuguese to push further into the subcontinent. Based on the Jesuit reducciones, missions, located along the Uruguay River, the film sheds a harsh light on colonial politics and depicts the Guaraní as the innocent victims caught amidst a border dispute. During this time period, nationalistic rulers were attempting to consolidate their power and undermine the influence of the church. The crown and secularized clergy viewed religious orders, like the Jesuits, as a threat because their loyalty was only to the Pope. Therefore, the crown became less concerned with the process of Christianizing the natives and more focused on gaining control of the colonies. The background of the movie revolves around the fact that the Spanish reducciones were located in a piece of territory, which had been given to Portugal as a result of the Treaty of Madrid. Unlike the Spanish, who “practiced” anti-slavery laws, the Portuguese did not and allowed for groups, like the bandeirantes, to conduct slave-raiding expeditions. However, even though the Spanish had anti-slavery laws, many Spaniards shared the Portuguese belief that the natives were inferior to the European colonists. The movie portrays this colonial sentiment through a scene in which the fate of the missions is being debated. At the debate, Don Cabeza , a Portuguese colonist, argues that the Indians are animals and that the only way to save them from their violent, subhuman ways would be to enslave them. Following these debates, Cardinal Altaminaro visits the missions and realizes that the Guarani Indians are spiritual people and not animals, as Cabeza had
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