Saturday, July 22, 2006

End of the Spear

Last night, I saw the movie, End of the Spear on DVD. Being that it is a Christian, independent film done by first time director, Jim Hanon, I wondered whether or not the film would rate in my own, personal, "classic to watch over and over again" category. Well, I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I found myself intensely moved by this film! If you haven't seen this awesome movie that is based on a remarkable true story, I highly recommend it! However, because of the violent content, you might need to judge whether or not your children under the age of 10 should view it (it is rated PG-13 for that reason).

The back of the DVD box says this:

Worlds collide and tragedy strikes as a missionary group journeys to the heart of the Amazon jungle in search of the Waodani, a tribe of fierce warriors completely isolated from civilization. When five of the missionaries are killed by tribesmen, their families are left husbandless and fatherless. Despite their tremendous loss, and as a testament to their faith, the families decide to remain in Ecuador and live among the Waodani as originally planned. But the effects of that first encounter have yet to subside: A young boy, determined to unlock the secret of his father's death, must learn to accept a tragedy he cannot remember in this powerful tale of sacrifice, courage and redemption!

That paragraph does not come anywhere near how moving this movie really is! I was brought to tears several times throughout the film. I don't want to be a "spoiler" for the sake of those who have not seen the movie yet, but if you want to read many more excellent viewer comments, go to End of the Spear, scroll down and click on check for other user comments.

This is one of those movies that I need to see again. It has also motivated me to read at least one of the 2 books based on this incident. "Through Gates of Splendor" and "Shadow of the Almighty" by Elisabeth Elliot also tell this story.

Even though I knew what was eventually going to happen to the missionaries, I was surprised by how it actually came about. The one thing that caught me was the fact that their deaths were built upon a lie.

The second thing that I noticed was that this primitive tribe practiced amorality (without a conscience because they obviously did not know about Bible-based morality), but they also showed signs of guilt when they broke the rules of the tribe (showing that a built-in conscience from God was evident, too). The third thing that I noticed about these indigenous people was that their own form of "human autonomy" starkly reveals that unrestrained man has a natural penchant for criminality and inhumanity. The history behind this warring tribe told us that they and their rival tribe were continually involved in killing each other. There was a fear that they may eventually kill each other off!

Knowing all of this about these people shows the astounding courage of the men who were willing to risk their lives to reach these people. They had no idea in which particular direction their contact would ultimately go. Would it lead to friendliness and the chance to share the gospel? Or, would they just be killed? As the story unfolds, we find out the answers to both questions.

One reviewer at the website link (above) said:

"This is an excellent true story of love, forgiveness and living one's life for Christ to the fullest. This movie defines what Jesus meant by "the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends." It also shows how God can radically change our lives no matter what age we are and how settled we have become."

Another said:

"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."

Still another stated:

" I was stunned by the commitment of these missionary families. It may be difficult to believe in something as a calling, but I think that there's no better word to describe the motivation of these people to go deep in the amazone jungle to try to reach a tribe which is totally ruled by fear and vengeance. They strike me as ordinary people who give up their ordinary lives, because God had spoken to them in some way. The determination of those families is great, they don't give up even when it cost the lives of their beloved. It's hard to not see the hand of God supporting and comforting them, just to move on. The result is awesome, a total transformation. Where fear and vengeance ruled, now love is at reign."

I plan to share more of my own personal reactions to this film and the true story it reveals. And I plan to view it again with my family. One commenter summed it up quite well:

"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!"

If you have seen this movie, please share your thoughts and impressions about it! You can include "this comment may include spoilers" so that those who still want to see it without reading the "spoilers" can choose not to read the comment (I bet most peek anyway!)


Phronk said...

Sounds like a very interesting story!

I can see from the quotes, though, that it probably gets pretty preachy and one-sided, which isn't really my cup of tea. I'll certainly consider picking it up if I see it around, though, because even if it makes me angry, at least it'll be thought-provoking.

Thanks for the impressions.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Phronk,

I'm glad that you will consider purchasing the DVD to watch it. Half of the proceeds go to a charitable cause (not completely sure, but if I recall correctly, I believe the donations will help the Waodani people).

It isn't overtly "religious" per se, but Christians (as well as some non-believers) will recognize the "gospel in action" message it contains.

If you do choose to see it, I hope you will share your impressions here!

Jody said...

Christine, you do know that the lead actor in that film is openly gay, an advocate for gay marriage and anti-homophobia education in schools, right?

Christinewjc said...

Yes Jody. I knew about that. However, an actor's sexual proclivities, political views, and antics did not persuade me to reject the film. It might very well be a factor for other Christians (and I wouldn't blame them one bit), but I wanted to see this film because of the brave missionaries and true story that was being portrayed.

I was very disappointed to hear about Mel Gibson's DUI arrest and rants, but it doesn't negate my feelings about his film The Passion of the Christ. It just proves the point that we are all sinners in need of the Savior.

Romans 3:23-26 (NLT) For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. 24 Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. 25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. 26 And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus.