End of the Spear (2005) Poster

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Really well done and important film
balticblond7 January 2006
Jim Hanon's new film, "End of the Spear" comes to us in a new tradition started by David Cunningham's "To End All Wars". Over the past 2 years a growing number of films have begun to appear with a believable spiritual connection. I'm happy to say this is another one that hits a home run when it comes to telling a great story without stripping out real life spirituality-- something that is integral to most people's life.

The film brings us the important story of Christian missionaries killed during their first efforts to meet an isolated band of Ecuadoran native people embroiled in a cycle of violence. "End of the Spear" tells the story from the perspective of a tribal leader and the child of one of the missionaries that died.

I think if you keep in mind this is an independent film shot on a restricted budget, you'll be pleased with most technical aspects-- cinematography, sound etc.

You'll also love the actors that were just great. Louie Leonardo does a wonderful job portraying Waodani tribesman Mincayani in the lead role. You also have to give credit to young Chase Ellison in his role as young Steve Saint, whose pilot father died.

The role of religions in transforming culture is a hot button issue these days. This film doesn't take that head on, but presents a balanced realistic view, and perhaps an alternative aspect that most critics generally don't acknowledge.

There were weaknesses in the film also, but none that distracted much from the story. There were a few bits that might have been served by further character and story development-- the son's issues in particular.

All in all, this is a wonderful film with a great message of reconciliation. I hope we see more like this.
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A wonderful movie for your eyes and your heart
Philip Lindquist29 December 2005
End of the Spear is a beautifully crafted movie about one of the great missionary stories of the 20th century, but it is not a preachy kind of movie. The story is simply told and allowed to stand on its own. The story is one of those that would not be believable on the big screen if it were not true in all of its essential points. The beautiful jungle scenery (the movie was shot in Panama) is well worth the price of the ticket. But the story will make you think about how self-giving love is more powerful than violence. The story also shows that extraordinary risks taken for peace can pay dividends beyond imagination. This will be a movie that people will be talking about, and watching again and again, far into the future. You'll be sorry if you don't take the opportunity to see it on the big screen. You'll also wonder why an independent film company can make such a wonderful movie when Hollywood is making bad movies based on old TV shows.
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Truly Moving Picture
tollini16 January 2006
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and won the $50,000 Grand Prize in October of 2005. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life."

The film, which is based on a true story, starts in 1956 in the Amazon basin in Ecuador. Five missionaries are savagely killed by a primitive tribe. But that is the beginning of the story and not the end of the story.

The missionaries' wives and children take on the work of their fathers and husbands. They and we, the audience, are forced to examine violence and how we react to violence and the possibility of forgiving the perpetrators of violence.

The missionaries and their families display incredible human traits. They display courage in the face of danger – they are willing to sacrifice a normal life to help others – they show respect and tolerance to primitive people. But most impressive of all, they retain their humility and do not look down on others.

The cinematography and music are stunning. The Amazon jungle becomes the third character along with the tribe and the missionaries. And all three characters relentlessly attempt to survive and prevail.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Crystal Heart winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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Critic's Choice! a new era in movie making
filmcritic5418 January 2006
Absolutely amazing cinematography and storyline, and best of all the story isn't made up, its a true to life story shown from the tribe's point of view. The quality of the film is superb. The storyline will keep you on the edge of your seat in suspense through the entire movie. There are also some bonus "blooper" clips played during the credits of the movie. You would not know that director Jim Hanon was a first time director but rather you would think he had been in the business for years. This film will help inspire the way future films are shot and created. This also highlights and shows some insight into the burgeoning film industry coming out of Oklahoma City. This scene is set to take off and provide Hollywood with a new generation of film makers.

Reconciliation is the word that best describes this captivating film. Most people can forgive someone but they don't move on or exclude people from their lives. This true to life story gives a glimpse into Steve Saint's life. His father Nate Saint, was one of the 5 men brutally killed to death in 1956 by a Waodani tribesman. Today, he travels the world with the exact man that killed his father back then. In fact, he even considers him family and calls him "grandfather". To forgive someone is one thing, to show our violent society how to be completely reconciled with one another can rarely be said in today's world. Go see this true story and decide for yourself!!!
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Five missionaries are brutally murdered by a violent native tribe in Ecuador. One of the wives and a sister then go to live with the tribe to model unconditional love.
connectwoodbridge10 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This outstanding movie tells the story of five missionaries who were speared to death by the Waodani tribe of Ecuador in 1956. It is based on the book "Through Gates of Splendor" by Elisabeth Elliot and the story featured in "LIFE" magazine after the incident occurred.

The movie traces the event from two perspectives - the Waodani tribe itself, and Steve Saint (orphaned son of jungle pilot Nate Saint who first made contact). This creates amazing tension as the pain and humanity of the incident is seen through the eyes of people directly affected on both sides of the slaying.

One of the most striking features of this film is the participation of indigenous actors. The actual location in Ecuador was too remote for a film crew, so the producers were able to locate a remote tribe in Panama that agreed to play the part of the Waodani. Although these people had never even seen a movie before, they understood the concept of the incident, and were willing to help bring the amazing story to a wider audience.

This is the first time the Waodani were willing to tell the story. They were told about Columbine and other incidents of violence. The Waodani leaders apparently said that if the men were willing to come 50 years ago to help them learn not to kill one another, that they would do the film in hopes that it would help others learn not to kill. They then became consultants for the film.

The cinematography is very good, with some striking scenes in the jungle. The actor who portrays the Waodani warrior-chief, Mincayani, is outstanding. The scene where Nate and Steve Saint say goodbye is incredibly moving, as both recognize that the father may not return. Steve chasing his dad's plane down the makeshift runway is a serious tear-jerker.

There are some intense scenes of violence that are probably too strong for younger children, although I believe the producers took the high road on showing the actual spearing.

The love demonstrated by the women who were willing to go and live with the tribe is simply amazing. They chose to live among the very men who murdered their loved ones (in part to prevent the government from going in and wiping the Waodani out)and to care for the sick and dying of both the Waodani and their rivals. This showed the tribe that the cycle of revenge-based violence they had been living under for centuries did nothing but decimate the tribe itself, and that there was a better way.

Over the next two years, the tribal leaders began to accept that they could live and prosper without murdering one another, and be at peace with their rivals. It is said that the murder rate dropped by 90%.

We were fortunate enough to see this film at a screening, and greatly look forward to seeing it again. It garnered two rounds of applause from the audience. Stick around during the credits to see the actual footage from when the real Mincayani came to the US with Steve Saint. Highly recommended.
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Outstanding Film & Story!!!!!
movielover-2313 January 2006
Could you truly love the people that killed your family members and friends? What if it was a gross misunderstanding (can anyone say Iraq War)? The kind of stuff more movies should be made of! I got to attend a screening here in NYC that apparently coincided with the 50th anniversary of this true event.

I'm not sure why or how this movie has escaped the attention of most major media. The movie websites says it's releasing in 1,200 theaters in a week. Maybe the media is biased because part of the story is about missionaries. I don't know about the rest of you, but this is the first movie I've been to in a while that is actually worth $9 for a ticket.

I think most people might think that loving your father's killer is a little sick, but when the movie unfolds and you understand the clash between the two cultures, it make sense.

If you like The Mission (Robert Dinero, Jeremy Irons), Chariots of Fire, or Last of the Mohicans, you will enjoy this movie!
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Excellent movie
mmhuff19 January 2006
This is a wonderful movie about the human spirit. It was beautifully and lovingly made by people who were truly moved by the story. We watched in a screening at the University I work at and the Producer came to speak about the project and how he got involved. I and 1300 others watched the movie, in folding chairs, yet we were not uncomfortable at all because the movie is so enrapturing that you just don't notice your surroundings at all. The majority of the audience was college aged students and I've never seen them so moved, and amazingly quiet, for such a long time. I believe that this movie will have a great impact on the lives of all who see it. I highly recommend it.
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This film rocks
ricroc-15 December 2005
I had a chance to view this film at the National Missionary Convention. All I have to say about it....IT ROCKS! A great film. Very inspiring. I will see it again and I will spend top dollar to see it. When it is available to purchase, I will be the first in line. The film was beautifully made, and was true to the actual story of the five missionaries who gained their lives by reaching the Waodani. I was moved, shocked, brought to tears as I viewed this realistic portrayal. I would not recommend allowing children under 10 to view. Nothing horrific, just some hard imagery to digest. Would open the door for 20 questions after they viewed the film. I am going to allow my 10 year to see it. Again...GREAT FILM!!! GREAT MESSAGE,
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go see this!
tomstoerzbach18 January 2006
I got to see a sneak preview several weeks ago, and you really need to go and see if this changes your view of what movies can do!

The creators of this film were deeply moved when they learned of the original true-life event this film is based on, and they poured their all into making a film that would reach people on a more spiritual level than most Hollywood fare these days, without being preachy (thank heavens), and while maintaining the natural lure of an adventure story. See if you agree that they succeeded!

It really doesn't matter if you know the historical true life story or not -- your heart will be pounding, then broken, then softened, and finally strengthened as you emerge a different person.
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Finally an accurate depiction of how faith motivates
PScott Cummins19 January 2006
What Mel Gibson "risked" in bringing "The Passion of the Christ" to the screen, so did Mart Green to realize the story of "End of the Spear" - a truly inspiring must-see film that outlines the interaction of American missionaries with isolated people in the jungles of Ecuador in 1956. In an era when Americans - and particularly Evangelical Christians - are subject to stereotype and ridicule around the world, this movie has another perspective on what is in the hearts of those who follow Christ. I sincerely hope that Mart Green and the rest of the team that worked to realize this true story on film, will receive acknowledgment for what they have accomplished. They certainly have my appreciation and respect. See this movie, and bring friends, particularly people who do not know this kind of faith in their lives. This is a story of transformational love which will not be lost on anyone.

Though some mainstream media critics and virulent anti-Christians will be especially harsh to a non-Hollywood financed motion picture that succeeds in getting its message across, please don't be discouraged by their cynicism. It is is true that this movie doesn't have some of the computer-generated nuances of a big budget film. And it is true that an acting performance or two among the cast is uneven. And it is true that this movie would have benefited mightily from a script make-over and a big-budget editing team. But that is just the point - those very elements of the film-making support the raw, edgy nature of the setting and plot for the story.

My favorite reviewer comment comes from John Niccum of the Lawrence, Kansas Journal-World: "This generally engrossing Christian parable is the type of film that conservatives will over-praise and liberals will over-criticize."

Which is fair comment. And supports strongly the observation that a large number of the public wants many more of these kinds of films - and those that don't acknowledge the power of these stories. So let them carp about imperialism and all else - it will only help draw the fair-minded into the theater for their own analysis. "End of the Spear" will make the point that perhaps they have never experienced about love and redemption.

Oh, and like everyone else says: stick around for the credits!
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I was not expecting much but WHAT A Surprise
embowles21 January 2006
I was very skeptical going to this moving because most films like this are usually a feeble attempt at evangelism at best. But because I'm a movie freak and I prefer not to be accused of uninformed criticism I went.

The story was captivating, produced with excellence and the acting believable. It was good enough to insight laughter, tears and cheers.

It was difficult to predict what may happened next and in the end one came away with a sense of understanding of those who live in what seems like another world and how much alike we really are when all is said and done. The tape that ran during the credits showing the actual people who the film was made about was an excellent end to an otherwise very emotional ending and allowed those to leave the theatre with a smile on their faces rather than tears running down.

I'd like to see it again with out getting all emotional this time as I believe I missed a lot.

Watch out Mel Gibson :-)
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Completely missed the point
inmytree63-938-62864031 December 2010
This movie is obvious religious propaganda, paid for by organized Christian religion. This film is written from a Western point of view and fails to see or even address that other cultures, like the Waorani have different cultural beliefs and that these beliefs may also be valid. Why should we homogenize the whole world to believe in God (Waengongi) and his son? How is this belief relevant to this tribe and their way of life? Does this belief really make them better people? Is the way they are living wrong? What constitutes murder in our culture does not necessarily hold true for all cultures. Our disgust for the Waorani killing each other and our need to "save" them, like they're children, is just Westerners, once again, feeling morally superior to the rest of the world. It fails to address the larger issues at hand here like whether or not the missionaries should be there at all with all their moral superiority. Also the fact that these missions paved the way for the oil companies to come in and steal and devastate these tribal lands. I sat through this whole movie and I found no redeeming value in it at all. In this day and age, I would expect more in-depth thought from a film.
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Loved the movie
glayde-121 January 2006
I normally a scifi/action movie buff. My favorites are the first star wars and Matrix. But I like this movie, it is as far ahead of its time as they were ahead of their's. Never before have I seen a Hollywood offering that just told the story. No politics,no agenda just what happened. Does it have a message?, I can think of at least a dozen but that was not the focus. The focus was what happened. You can take from it what ever you like they don't tell you what to believe in the movie just what happened. Man I loved that. And with all that you might expect it to be like a documentary boring, It wasn't the jungle scenes were spectacular. The pace was fast enough to keep you going thru the whole movie with out a lag.
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Very well done - Note-violent
RGildez21 January 2006
This movie is a very well done work; accurate to the nature of the Waodani tribe, accurate to the authors statements, and it touched my heart. What touched my heart the most was the reaction of Steve Saint, and how he chose to live among the Waodani tribe, even after knowing the truth of his father's death.

It is much too violent for younger viewers (I would not take my children), and I wish that the Biblical gospel had been more clearly presented. Although the good news of God's forgiveness is alluded to, it is not presented as clearly as it could have been.

However, even with these concerns, I would quickly recommend this movie be seen by people who desire to see a story based on the truth, and the impact the truth and God's love can make in the lives of a very hostile people. Maybe there is even hope for us - today.
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End of the Spear - a surprisingly good movie.
lbk99-geo20 January 2006
It is a quarter past midnight and I just got home from watching "End of the Spear" at a local theater on its opening night. It was quite an experience, but before I give my reactions, let me give you some background on the movie.

If you do not already know, the film is based on the true story of an indigenous tribe, the Waodani, in the Ecuador jungle who were known for their brutal murders of each other and any who entered their region. Five missionaries attempted to contact them before the government could wipe the tribe out, but all five of them were murdered by the Waodani because of a tragic misunderstanding. Rather than seek vengeance for this, some of the families left behind by the slain men went to live with the Waodani and seek to help them in both material and spiritual ways. The story is largely told from two points of view; that of the son of one of the slain men, and that of one of the Waodani leaders.

The film was gripping and moving and held my attention for most of the nearly two hours it lasted. It gave a window into a very different world and mindset than most of us in the "civilized" western world are accustomed to. If you are looking for great special effects, star actors or "fun" entertainment this is not the picture for you. However, if you want a to see a movie that has believable characters in a gripping tale based on a true story, then I highly recommend going to see this movie!
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See this, it will forever stay in your heart...
hisgirl211 January 2006
Only with the power of our Creator can any of us truly forgive... This is the fruit of that forgiveness. Words can not express I suppose the nearest one is true and undying Love! The story brought to life by a man named Steve Saint, truly the son of a Saint, Nate Saint to be exact... it sounds like make believe but its all true. Nate and 4 other Brave men gave the ultimate sacrifice, they lived and died in a beautiful but deadly South American jungle over 50 years ago. Living out their convictions in a way most of us would never have the faith or brave hearts to do. Steve Saint and several other amazing people bring the drama to life. You will feel like you too are standing on that jungle river bank so many years ago. However this story is not over. The reality of that day is still being felt today and no doubt till Heaven returns. Awesome and Remarkable! See this, it will forever stay in your heart!
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Finally; a 10!
jenniferclinard-121 January 2006
After a long season of mediocre movies we finally have a couple of tops. This one takes the cake. Spend the money; you won't regret it.

Well written, acted, directed, and filmed; but I must go on. It is dramatic, tragic, heart-wrenching and wonderful. The story carries you through the movie. I never wondered when it would end, what time it was, or how long it was. I was captivated the entire time.

The best stories are true stories that end holding out a hope.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot

Go see what Jim gave, and what he gained. It is incomprehensible.
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"multiple viewings of this film will be rewarded"
PEGoble12 January 2006
There is something so moving and beautiful about this film that cannot be conveyed except by the person sitting next to you in the movie theater. The violence-obsessed youth culture in Western civilization might well be civilized by the uncivilized stone age tribesmen whose story is told in this film. The film is told from the dual points-of-view of the savages in South American rain forests and the little boy who is living near them with his father. The entire film is unified by the fifty year story of how the two come together, the little boy who grows up and the tribesmen who are changed. I cannot recommend this film enough. It is absolutely a miracle, from start to finish. But will our U.S. "Columbine" youth culture look up from their violent video games long enough to glance at it?
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Touching and powerful
arabianardour22 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I don't usually write reviews for movies unless I can give them a ten star rating. This film would have earned ten stars for the message alone, even if it hadn't been so well-done. Technically, End of the Spear was well-directed on all points. Chad Allen gave an excellent, believable performance as Nate Saint, and later, Steve Saint. Louie Leonardo was simply stunning in his role as Minkayani, and made a real impact on the whole movie.

This technical excellence, though much appreciated, was only the icing on the cake. The true substance of this film is in the message that it tells in such a way that it is inescapable, and yet draws the world in. Though I don't believe the name of Jesus was ever mentioned, the sacrifice, forgiveness, love and redemption unashamedly portrayed in the story can't be mistaken as anything but a message from God. The story, that of the missionaries and of the Waodani, is sometimes brutal, and it was not softened or minced in any way. The violence was well-handled, and though I wouldn't recommend a young child seeing the movie, it could have been far more graphic.

Acting, music, the storyline, the scenery-- everything combined to make End of the Spear one of the most moving films I've ever seen. But there are two scenes that really stand out in my mind. The first is when the missionaries are killed by the Waodani. It is played out in slow motion, which makes it very intense and also very effective. I guess what really got me was when, after watching his friends brutally murdered, the dying Nate Saint tells his killer, "We are your friends." (in their own language of course) Then there's the scene near the end of the movie where Minkayani takes Steve Saint to the spot where his father was killed. From the revelation (Minkayani's scream, "I speared your father!) to Steve Saint's powerful line, "You didn't take my father's life... he gave it." It had me in tears.

End of the Spear is a film truly worthy of the golden story it tells, and I only hope it succeeds in touching the world as much as it touched me.
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A Must See!!!
tommyboy-3520 January 2006
End of the Spear has a powerful story, a true one at that, which will speak to your heart. It is very moving! It has a great story and the film has a great look to it. The movie was crafted extremely well. It offers an interesting perspective into native tribes. The performance by Chase Ellison, the young Steve Saint, was terrific. He really brought a lot to the movie. Also, the amazing scenery throughout the movie is breathtaking. End of the Spear is probably not the best family movie out right now, but its message is surely a good one. It might not be to everyone's liking, but at least give it a try if you like good stories. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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Remarkable Story
Joshua Guthrie20 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie for the first time today, I am so shaken by its story that I have to post this message on here! I am 24 years old, and not many movies grab me the way this movie did! The thing that I find most amazing about this story is that it is a TRUE story from beginning to end. Learn more by going to www.bearingfruit.org , www.endofthespear.com , www.beyondthegates.com I have spent the better part of a day reading this story, and the movie follows the truth pain staking close! This movie moved me more then that passion of Christ movie, because it shows how people should treat one another today, and it shows courage, Love, and Grace, In such a strong way! I makes me want to give my life to help others, to live a life of dangerous adventure, daring to love someone that I do not know! This is am epic tail of truth! I hope to see more movies like this one! Movies that show meaning, that create community, and spread the feeling of love for fellow people! Go see this movie, it would be OK for anyone over 12 years of age I think, It has mild violence nothing worse then you would see on regular every day TV, but the violence is real, and that is the part that grabs me the most! That someone could return to the people that killed their loved ones to show love to someone who by most standards does not deserve it! Spend your Dime on this Movie, You won't be sorry!
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Truth Is Stranger than Fiction Meeting Steve Saint and Tementa, son of the Woadoni responsible for the killings
cjkallgren17 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It has been 50 years since 5 young men died in Equador, an event that was retold for years challenging the hearer to consider if they had any belief that they would be willing to die for. The events since that day are even more amazing. I sat with tears streaming when I realized the substitute speaker standing before me, was the son of one of these murdered men, and the dark tanned man beside him was a woadoni native, the son of the native responsible for killing his dad.

Truth is Stranger than Fiction, and this movie is well worth seeing if you have ever wondered if dark clouds can possibly have silver linings, or violent people can ever become good gentle people. That was my impression of Tementa, the woadoni native standing before me and a baby demanded killed by his dying father in the movie, Gentle and good. The man whose parental generation would have/and did kill anyone who met them, was gentle enough to stand in a stairwell and show my 7 year old boy how to blow a dart at a balloon placed on the wall thru a primitive blowgun..primitive to me, but still used in the jungles by his tribe today. I look forward to being one of the first to view this movie, as I have been anticipating it for 2 years since I learned of it. Please see this movie. Since it is a limited engagement, you may have to travel a little farther to see it.

Check out the website at www.endofthespear.com for previews.
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the lies and the liars that tell them
Flickkiller3 February 2006
First of all, let me say that I can't believe this film got at theatrical release. I was sucker enough to watch it without knowing it's religious agenda. I took my kids and they were squirming around after a few seconds of the film. The marketing was a lie, not so cool my Christian friends. Nothing in the poster would tell you that this film is about Christian missionaries. Although the cinematography and setting were beautiful, the awkward shoveling of Christianity was disturbing. Why do they spend all of this money to make such tripe. The plot is weak and obvious. The script could have been written by a monkey. Maybe it was. All of these squeaky clean Christians trying to save these dirty Equidorian natives made my stomach turn. As I look at all of the postings on this site, i can't help noticing that they are all first timers. Hmm. Kinda makes you wonder if they aren't' tiring to spin this. When will the IMDb start removing the BS. I read that the film has only made about 8 million dollars to date and I heard that it cost about 10 million to make so you know that someone is losing money. Well you jackasses got my money. Please give it to the poor.
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My biggest regret was the wrongful portrayal of Jim Elliot as a buffoon.
joydriven24 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I don't expect film media to provide an adequate standalone vehicle for the Gospel. I was, however, disappointed with EotS's presentation of the martyrs, and particularly incensed at the treatment of Jim Elliot.

Did I think the Gospel was absent from the movie? I thought it was introduced tardily (as in, late in the movie), partially, and blurrily. I would not say it was absent entirely, but it was absent in its pure form.

Did I mind this presentation of the Gospel? The movie did not really promote "another gospel," either. There were only snippets of the truth communicated, and I think there are valid reasons for that.

1. Communicating the Gospel in its entirety was not the purpose of the movie. I admire adherence to truth, and I think that the Gospel should be evident and glorified in all we do, but film is not the written or preached Word and needn't be judged according to all the standards by which we judge the value of preaching and teaching in the context of the Church. The written and preached Word is God's primary ordained medium for the Gospel.

2. The film genre is simply not conducive to a full Gospel presentation, since it is a primarily audiovisual, fast-paced, entertainment venue. A script adaptation (even a faithful one), emotional soundtrack, evocative lighting, and poignant camera angles are not God's ordained formula for conveying the Gospel in its entirety. He chose the Word, spoken and written, to be the primary vehicle of truth.

3. Presenting what happened to the Waodani as a change effected by their salvation en masse would not have been a faithful representation of what truly happened, and would, in fact, have undermined the very definition of the Gospel had it been presented as such.

4. The focal character during the moments that the Gospel was being communicated was Mincayani, clearly an unbeliever at that point in the story. His and his friends' perceptions of the differences they were seeing were filtered through their presuppositions and prejudices. It is only natural (and therefore a fairly faithful representation) that the Gospel would be all Greek to them. The movie has us viewing the Gospel through their unbelieving eyes at that point.

What bothered me most about End of the Spear? Aside from the false hopes and unrealistic expectations that evangelicals apply to the movie--since those are not the movie's fault, per se--I was particularly incensed the portrayal of Jim Elliot as a self-absorbed clown. As lighthearted (and occasionally reckless) as he may have been or seemed, he was also deeply burdened, highly intelligent, and certainly sober when appropriate. I do not kid myself that Elisabeth Elliot's presentation of his legacy was entirely without some natural bias. But to bereave the movie of a rounder treatment of Jim was a disservice, I think--a disservice to the truth, to the families, and to the audience. That Jim's gravity and earnest depth and calculated plans and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit (as evidenced extensively in his journals alone) was omitted completely, as though he was the chain's weakest link, is profoundly aggravating, to say the least.

The movie's bias leans toward the portrayal of a very competent and passionate Nate Saint, and justly so. The most attention Roger Youderian receives in the movie is the Waodanis' presumption that he is just a very tall woman with a singing voice like a canary. Ed McCulley gets to dance with his wife and introduce himself on the beach. Pete Fleming (off-camera) can't find his Waodani language notes when they need them, although he does get some screen time as the last man standing in the river, quite obviously petrified and mute.

All of these men have been idealized, and are larger-than-life heroes. Fifty years is a long time for those left behind to process real memories or erect imagined improvements. Does knocking the idealized Jim Elliot down a peg or ten serve any real purpose? These men had different strengths and weaknesses, and I think that the families would admit that they had disagreements and differing viewpoints at times. To be human is to differ from one another, and to differ graciously and without harm to ministry endeavors is to be exhibits of God's sufficient GRACE. They were all part of the team. They were all committed men, growing in grace, and they all risked their lives--both deliberately and joyfully. How is it, then, that every single shot of Jim in this movie portrays him as a thoughtless buffoon? The last line of the movie even alludes strongly to Jim Elliot's own famous words ("He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose"), and yet the quote is modified and read by Allen, as Saint's character.

Credible film-making and allegiance to truth go hand-in-hand. I wasn't counting on this movie to preach the Gospel. I wasn't counting on this movie to comprise an all-believing cast with no personal agendas to promote. I wasn't even counting on this movie to be a flawless, unbiased account of what really happened. I wasn't. But I do feel sorry that this movie did not make more of an effort to tell the whole truth. I am glad that more of the "big scope" picture was brought to light. I am glad that more of the Waodanis' history was explained. I am glad that the less tangible elements (timing and providence) were highlighted. I just think that more could have been done to flesh out and honor the memory of these men, all five of them.

I wanted to meet them. I, who have grown up in their grandchildren's generation, wanted to be introduced to them. I wanted a posthumous chance to know them. I wanted to have been there with them. Perhaps those, too, are unreasonable demands for any film. I think they may have been.
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I Was Presently Surprised
David A Dein21 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Growing up a Protestant kid in the 80's I tripped over the story of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot and the three other missionaries who were brutally murdered by the Waorani people in 1956. It is the tragic story that caused a sensation in the United States. Not because the men died in vain, but because the wives of these men reached out to these violent people and changed their lives forever. It's a story that captivated me. In fact when I was eleven I told many people that I one day wanted to make a movie about these very people. To my surprise THE END OF THE SPEAR came along and does just that.

SPEAR tells the tale from the vantage point of young Steve Saint (Chase Ellison), Nate Saints (Chad Allen) pre-teen son, and Mincayani (Louie Leonardo) the Waorani leader whom killed Nate Saint with his own spear. It begins as the Waorani people are on the verge of the extinction. Their violent society has the Ecuadoran government ready to go in and kill them all, and their warlike ways have made them unable to survive very long anyway. It's only when Saint's wife (Cara Stoner) and sister Rachel (Sara Kathryn Bakker) move into the tribe and attempt to reach out to the Waorani women that redemption begin to take hold.

I walked into SPEAR with very little expectation. You have to understand I have seen hundreds of horrible "Christian" films. Most are not worth the film they are printed on. But SPEAR works. Yes it's got some very clunky scenes, the dialogue is a tad bit simplistic, but it has a dramatic tension I wasn't quite expecting. I was actually moved by scenes. I rooted for characters and did not feel talked down to. SPEAR is not a movie about saving souls, it's a movie about characters. It is the kind of movie that if given a chance will spark debate and inspiration. It's motive seems innocent and not heavy handed.

The cinematography while simple by Hollywood's standard is effective. The score doesn't get in the way, and Director Jim Hannon fills his story with just enough detail that it's believable. He gets performances out of his actors that are simple and understated. It's not Oscar caliber, but that's not to be expected. The dialogue works, even if the Subtitles seem to rob the Waorani language of any real nuance, it's simple and get us from point A to point B as well as it can. There were moments I wanted to movie to explain the motives of it characters a little better. But for what it's worth SPEAR is still effective.

My qualms with the casting of Chase Ellison as Young Steve should also be noted. Some heavy scenes fall on this young boy and unfortunately he doesn't have the chops to hold it on his shoulders. A better child actor should have been sought. Casting children can be very hard. But the only scenes I didn't buy fell on this poor kid to vocalize and the poor material stuck out like a sore thumb.

I also hated the ending. It hurt the picture. There must have been a more powerful way of ending it. But unfortunately it pushed the story into the melodramatic range. It also introduced a supernatural twist that needed an explanation. We saw the scene earlier and these events didn't occur, why now? Hopefully this sour ending will not hurt the rest of the picture for most audiences. I for one was a little disappointed.

But all in all END OF THE SPEAR is not a bad film. It has its flaws. But at its heart it's the kind of movie that will inspire those whom let it. It will move those whom allow it to move and hopefully it will open a dialogue about International Missions. A job that has gotten a bad rap by people whom don't understand its importance in shaping the modern world. I'm glad that this story was told and that I had an opportunity to see it.

***1/2 (out of 5)
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