Mission, The (1986)
This is Not Your Father's Sunday School...
As a sophomore in a Catholic high school, you can expect a lot of things -- the unrelenting ire of the upperclassmen... the interminable void of gym class... the cold shoulder from the girls who've discovered that sex with college students is a whole lot better than sex with guys who can't drive...
What I didn't expect was to find one of my favorite films of all-time in a Theology class. (Oh, and full disclosure: I'm agnostic.)
On the surface, "The Mission" is a simple story. Two missionairies -- one (Jeremy Irons) a man of faith and love, the other (Robert DeNiro) a man of the sword in need of redemption -- travel deep into the jungle on a, yes, mission to convert the natives to Christianity. They succeed, despite the odds. But that's not the real conflict.
The REAL conflict is that the Catholic church, for its own inscrutable (and political) reasons, decides this mission is "dangerous" (primarily because Irons's teachings diverge from what the church believes is politically prudent), and so it attempts to shut the mission down. By force. With swords. And flaming arrows.
Regardless of your theological persuasion, there's something universal about the appeal -- both the tragedy and the harmony -- of "The Mission" that transcends the sticky subjects of religion and politics. Bonus: the score, by Ennio Morricone, is one of his most beautiful and endlessly haunting.