Historical accuracy of The Mission
The movie “The Mission” is based on a Spanish Jesuit missionary in the 1750’s. Father Gabriel leads a missionary to convert a Guarani community to Christianity. Father Gabriel’s character in the movie is actually based on the Paraguayan saint and Jesuit Roque González de Santa Cruz. The character Rodrigo is fictional. The movie combines some older missions that took place from 1610 to 1630 by implementing scenes that characterize the Guaira Falls; Guarani’s and Jesuits were forced out by Paulista slave raids right above the Guaira Falls. There is also a battle at the end of the movie that is based on an eight day battle called Battle of Mbororé, when Jesuits and Guarani’s fought Paulista Raiders on boats, which actually happened in 1641. The movie is mostly based on the Guarani War in 1754-1756, when Guaranis defended their home against Spanish and Portuguese military forces following the Treaty of Madrid in 1750. In the movie, Rodrigo and Father Gabriel along with the rest of the Jesuit missionary joined the Guarani in their efforts, but this actually did not happen. Jesuits are blamed for encouraging the war, but none were killed. And only 4 Europeans were killed in real life, where as the movie shows more than that being killed.
The guarani and the Jesuits were depicted as having very peaceful relations. In the 1500’s their relations may have been as such, but in the 1750’s the Guarani were less receptive to the Jesuits being there. There was actually more of an oppressive role on the Jesuits part. They benefitted financially from Guaranis labor regarding sugar and livestock. As far as the Jesuits trying to convince the Crown to let them stay, this motive was not as saintly as the movie suggests. The Guarani may have been protected from the slave trade, but their way of life was being changed without their total consent. That being said, they were still not technically slaves.
The movie does touch on a bit of truth...