Adapted by Brian Moore from his own novel, The Black Robe is a sprawling recreation of a turbelent period in Canadian history. In 1634, Jesuit missionary Father Laforgue (Lothair Bluteau) arrives in the New World, hoping to convert the Huron Indian tribe to Catholicism-and, incidentally, to expedite the French colonization of Quebec. Laforgue is regarded with a combination of warmth and wariness by the natives, who refer to Laforgue and his fellow priests as "black robes". Offering his services as both guide and friend is Algonquin chief Chomina (August Schellenberg). The by-the-book Laforgue does little to endear himself to the Indians-one of whom, a holy man, labels the priest as a demon who will bring nothing but death and destruction. The one who suffers most is Chomina, the man who most desires peaceful coexistence. In an ironic coda, we learn that the "black robes" have set into motion the fall of the Hurons, simply by imposing their Christian values upon them. Black Robe has been compared to Dances with Wolves, but the films do not share the same philosophy: while the idealistic hero of Wolves strives to understand and appreciate his new Indian comrades, the pious protagonist of Black Robe has only conversion in mind.
by Hal Erickson synopsis