Release Date: September 26, 2006
Director: Jeremy Zipple
Production Company: Fourth Week Films
Francis Xavier was born in Navarre (now in northern Spain) as a member of minor noble family. As the youngest son, he followed his duty to study for the priesthood, with the expectation he could return home and live a leisurely and comfortable life as a prelate. While studying at the University of Paris, he met an older student, Igatius of Loyola, who had begun to attract attention and followers with his Spiritual Exercises. Xavier was initially resistant, but eventually joined Ignatius in his devotion and was among the first members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
His first mission was to Goa in India where he attracted people to listen to his instruction by walking the streets and ringing a bell. He found himself in-between the poor Indians and the Portuguese colonists, the latter who lead lives that were less Christian, in the strictest sense of the word. His willingness to interact with the lower castes also turned off the Indian Brahmins. Later he became the first missionary to go to Japan, attempting to win converts by analogy to Buddhist and Shinto beliefs. Xavier hoped to continue his mission to China, but died on the island of Shangchuan, 14km away from the Chinese mainland, while awaiting for a man who promised to take him to mainland China.
Stylistically, this isn’t the best documentary. There are several dramatic reenactments by actors playing Xavier and his contemporaries that just look cheezy. Also, it felt like a quarter of the live footage was just shots of churning ocean waves. The filmmaker, Jeremy Zipple, is a Jesuit priest and former editor for America, so one can expect that this story is a bit somewhat biased. The history of Christian missionaries to non-Western lands is one that often goes hand in hand with brutatlity and colonialism. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but a little inspired by Xavier’s attempts at honest cultural exchange and to live a Christian life of humility and poverty.
What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:
Xavier is a name I associate with Catholic schools that play basketball, so pretty much all of this story was new to me.
If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:
Watch The Mission, a classic movie that tells the story of Jesuit missionaries who find themselves caught in between the indigenous South American people they’ve come to teach Christianity, and Spanish imperialists who want to eliminate the indigenous people. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell is a science fiction novel about Jesuits leading a space mission to meet the inhabitants of an alien planet, very much a symbolic story of the missionary experience.
Source: Amazon Prime
2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – Documentary Films
B: Being Elmo
C: Central Park Five
D: Dear Mr. Watterson
E: The Endless Summer
F: F for Fake
G: Grey Gardens
H: High School
I: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice
J: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
L: The Last Waltz
M: Man With a Movie Camera
N: Nanook of the North
Q: Quest: A Portrait of an American Family
R: Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan
S: Soundtrack for a Revolution
T: Titicut Follies
U: Unforgivable Blackness
W: Waking Sleeping Beauty
If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:
- 2016: A journey through my neighborhood of Jamaica Plain in Boston.
- 2017: A spontaneous photograph each day.
- 2018: Watched and reviewed documentary movies.
And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:
- Book Reviews
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- Music Reviews and Writing
- City Stories, expository writing about my experiences in various cities
And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.