February 2006 – In an epilogue to the 2005 edition of the best selling Through Gates of Splendor, author Elisabeth Elliot writes that she has sometimes wondered if audiences tire of hearing the true story of five American missionaries – including her former husband Jim Elliot – who were killed by primitive tribesmen in the jungles of Ecuador in 1956. Apparently they do not.
On the 50th anniversary of the historic martyrdom, the remarkable story is the subject of a major motion picture from Every Tribe Entertainment titled End of the Spear. The movie was scheduled for release January 20 on 1,200 screens nationwide.
The movie is based on a new book, also titled End of the Spear, by Steve Saint. Saint is the son of Nate Saint, the missionary pilot who was killed as part of the mission team working to bring the Gospel to the notoriously violent Waodani Indians.
A documentary version of the story, Beyond the Gates of Splendor, is also available on DVD. (See AFA Journal, 11-12/05.)
The new movie, documentary and book all tell the story from two new perspectives: that of Steve Saint, who has maintained a close relationship with the Waodani, and from the view of the tribesmen themselves.
While the elements of a great movie are in place – an enthralling story, a competent cast, an exotic backdrop and high production values – Christian audiences may find two weaknesses.
First, the authentic and passionate Christ-centered motive of the missionaries is lacking, rendering an incomplete portrayal. In contrast, Elliot’s book clearly documents the Gospel zeal that drove the mission endeavor.
Second, Christians may be ambivalent at the choice of Chad Allen to portray both Nate Saint and a grown-up Steve Saint. Allen is an out-spoken gay activist who crusades against a federal marriage amendment.
Despite the movie’s shortcomings, it makes an important contribution to the understanding of the events surrounding the killings and to the changes that took place in the tribe in the years after. In addition, the human drama of a son losing his father, as well as the ongoing close relationship between Steve Saint and the Waodani are well done.
Hopefully, the new movie will create a renewed interest in the people and events that first shook the world a half-century ago. Still, Christians are most likely to find Elliot’s book the most satisfying account.
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
Beyond the Gates of Splendor: A True Story – DVD video
End of the Spear by Steve Saint
End of the Spear by Steve Saint – audio book on CD
Review by Rusty Benson
Graham movies released on DVD for home viewing
World Wide Pictures and Dean River Productions joined forces with the Rev. Billy Graham to create three full-length films that are now available on home video in DVD format.
Each film is approximately 90 minutes long and includes a story line centered around the themes of forgiveness, love, deliverance, relationships, evangelism and salvation. An overt presentation of the Gospel is shared through the characters in each film and is done so in a way that is easily understood by viewers of all ages.
The films, which are both light-hearted and serious, deal with real-life experiences, although some of the situations are dramatized for audience appeal. Therefore, it is important to note that the films do contain some thematic elements such as drug deals, violence, gambling, immodesty and gang affiliations presented in a restrained manner likely intended to depict the harsh realities of life.
Something to Sing About stars Darius McCrary (Family Matters) and Tamera Mowry (Sister, Sister) and tells a story about an ex-convict who is in need of a Savior as he attempts to overcome a past laden with drugs and crime.
Last Flight Out follows the missionary ventures of a female doctor who is willing to risk her life for the sake of spreading the Gospel.
Road to Redemption stars Jay Underwood and uses Home Alone-type of humor to follow a young lady as she seeks an easy way out of her bad decisions only to develop a relationship with her estranged grandfather in the process.
Although predictable at times, the films are quality, family-friendly fare. All three films are available from Fox Home Entertainment January 31.
Review By Rebecca Grace