Saturday, February 04, 2006

End of the Spear Movie Review

I went to see End of the Spear on Thursday afternoon. I'd been wanting to see it because it's based on the tragic, yet beautiful story, of five missionary men who gave their lives to reach the Auca (or Waodani), an Ecuadorian Indian tribe, with the Gospel. Multiple family members of the men ended up living with the tribe, with the killers of their family members; some for a few weeks, others for years (one, Rachel Saint, a sister to Nate Saint, for THIRTY years-->basically spending the rest of her life with them). By doing this, giving the ultimate gift of forgiveness, they became an integral part of the redemption of the Auca, most importantly saving souls, but also keeping them from becoming extinct.

I have to say I was pretty upset when I saw the reviews of this movie. It just seemed it was being whole-heartedly condemned, not because it was a poorly made film, but because it was a "Christian" movie. The other part that really bothered me was the choice of the lead character in the movie; a man who has used his prestige as an actor to promote the homosexual lifestyle at every opportunity, especially to young people. This bothered me, not so much because he is taken up with sin and has no remorse or desire to leave it (because, after all, we are called to love one another, i.e. ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’). It concerned me because I felt the controversy this choice stirred up would end up detracting from the story. We so need to hear the story of these men’s lives and deaths, and how this led to the redemption of an entire people, in these days of violence, selfishness, lust and fear. Ironically, the Waodani didn’t want to have this story be put into a movie format, because they didn’t want to promote themselves. However, after hearing of Columbine and the way so many of America’s young people are losing their lives to violence, they decided they needed to let the movie be made, as a way of ministering to the people of America. Thus their story came full circle!

Now, having seen the movie, I came away feeling thankful the story is being told, but also disappointed. It really wasn’t as well made as I hoped it would be, mainly due to the dramatic changes made by the filmmakers. The story is such a great story as it is, so there was no need to add drama to it, especially since it lent a sense of unreality to an otherwise real story. There is a highly dramatized scene at the end of the movie between “Steve Saint” and “Mincayani” which was particularly difficult to believe, especially knowing the truth of their relationship.

For the most part, it was beautifully filmed, but the sound track was a little distracting, in particular when it was trying to convey a sense of tension (the native singing & beating drums were a little patronizing to the story and the Waodani, I felt). I didn’t feel Chad Allen made a very convincing Nate or Steve Saint, despite a good effort. It was just too hard not to see him for what he is, a homosexual activist trying to play the part of a good man who gave up all he was for Christ’s sake. Finally, I wish they’d done a better job of showing the interactions of Elizabeth Elliott and Rachel Saint with the Aucas, especially in their attempts to convey the Gospel.

Probably the most moving part of the movie, but the most difficult to watch, (& I shouldn’t be spoiling anything here because it is well known these men were martyred) was when the missionaries were killed by the Aucas. If I were worried about what people thought of me, I would have been really embarrassed because I couldn’t help crying out in grief as I watched this. It was almost too much, knowing this had truly happened; it physically caused my heart to ache.

I can’t recommend this movie whole-heartedly, simply because of the untruths in it. As I said before, it is a powerful story, in it’s simplicity. and there was no need to detract from it by adding incidents that didn’t happen, just for dramatic effect. I CAN recommend the documentary film, “Beyond the Gates of Splendor” by the same director. This is an excellent retelling of the story from the mouths of the persons involved, including the killers of the missionaries; Mincayani being one of them. It is a simple, but moving and beautiful documentary; well worth seeing!

1 comment:

josie said...

Hey! Glad to see you are still blogging! :-)

Really liked your review!