There's a great chapter in The Oboe by Geoffrey Burgess and Bruce Haynes about that powerful scene in which Gabriel keeps playing his oboe despite the Guarani spears pointed in his direction. The authors write about the symbolic power of the oboe, of its music representing the penetration of Gabriel's message into the Guarani spirit. My 6-year-old happened to be watching with me, and he was completely riveted (just for that scene - then I tucked him into bed before watching the rest of the film). What is it about a scene that is compelling to a viewer whether he's 6 or 60? Well, here, first of all, the hero scaled a rocky cliff with an oboe strapped to his back. Okay, that got my attention. Then, later on in the scene, it was the music that mesmerized us, and Gabriel's courage in the face of life-threatening danger, his dignity, his faith, his creativity, and his respect for the Guarani.
There are so many other treasures in this movie for me. I've always had a special affection for the Jesuit order. I love how the Jesuits value education and the intellect, and actually put some THOUGHT into their faith. Ignatian spirituality, too, is full of gifts - reminders to see God in all things, to do things for the greater glory of God, to reflect on moments in which God's presence is palpable, to labor out of love "and not count the cost." And, speaking of Jesuits, I got such an insight into what my beloved saint, René Goupil, must have gone through as a missionary to the natives of Canada, traversing rough terrain and encountering all sorts of perils, hostility, and suffering. I also appreciated the glimpse into colonial life - the societal norms, the architecture, the religious customs - having come from a country which was a colony of Spain for hundreds of years.
People eagerly criticize institutional religion so much, and I would be the first to admit that I have dealt with many, intense frustrations with regard to the deep wounds it can inflict. But this movie shows the precious heart of religious faith as I think its founders would have wished it to continue. It's at the grassroots level, with remarkable individuals like Gabriel - with the "little" people - that religious faith can shake off all the encumbrances and formalities that weigh it down, and the things that really matter can shine through. Love always, do not pass judgment or count yourself above another, show mercy, abhor violence, take care of each other...these are the "laws" that govern the truest followers of Jesus exemplified in the fictional character of Gabriel.
I was so exhausted from work yesterday that I didn't get to practice (I was kind of using The Mission as my vicarious oboe dose for the day). Today I tried a long F and got a renewed appreciation for the purity of that adagio in Albinoni's concerto in D. I doubt I could ever be advanced enough to play anything like that, but a girl can have SOME goals and dreams, right? So my little goals are to get some good basics down this year. Already I think I figured out how to make my starting notes a little better (I was able to do that tonguing thing, albeit inconsistently, better on notes that were in the middle of a measure, but initial notes - the "attack"- had always been a problem). It does work to think of saying "Tu." I confess after exercises I indulged again and sight-read the first half of O Come O Come Emmanuel just to see if I could do it. Can't wait till I can do it smoothly and make it SOUND like it's coming from an oboe!
I found a video clip on Youtube of Ennio Morricone conducting an orchestral version of Gabriel's Oboe. *sigh* Like I've said, a girl can dream, right?