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Beyond the Gates

59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Based on true events during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, an exhausted Catholic priest (John Hurt) and a young idealistic English teacher (Hugh Dancy) find themselves caught in a literal and spiritual crisis. They have to choose whether to stay with the thousands of Tutsis about to be massacred or to flee for safety.


This is an unrated version of the original film edited for clean language. A powerfully moving rendering of the horrific genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994, Beyond the Gates is the story of the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO), a school run by Europeans and protected by the forces of the United Nations. Overseen by a spiritual, world-weary Catholic priest Father Christopher (John Hurt) and taught by an idealistic, naive young teacher Joe (Hugh Dancy), students and refugees alike perceive the ETO to be a safe haven of learning and love, where backgrounds and circumstances matter little and where humanitarian efforts are positively affecting the lives of the Rwandan people. When tensions between the Hutu and Tsutsi people of Rwanda escalate, father Christopher, teacher Joe, and Capitaine Delon (Dominique Horwitz), commander of the United Nation forces based at the ETO, find themselves thrust into the role of protecting a huge mass of Tsutsi refugees from certain massacre at the hands of the incensed Hutu population. Constrained by orders from the U.N. to "monitor" rather than "enforce" the peace in Rwanda, U.N. military forces are powerless to act against the mounting violence outside the school's gates and it quickly becomes evident to Father Christopher and Joe that they and the Rwandans depending on their protection are in extreme danger. In the end, both men are forced to choose between their humanitarian resolve and the preservation of their very lives. A microcosm of the extensive genocide that was carried out throughout Rwanda from April through June in 1994, the story of the ETO highlights to the larger world the ineffective and arguably destructive role that the Western World played in the Rwandan genocide. The film's immense power stems from stellar performances by John Hurt, Hugh Dancy, and Claire-Hope Ashitey (Marie) as well as exceptional writing by David Wolstencroft and impassioned story telling by director Michael Caton-Jones. Filming on location in Rwanda adds an added layer of authenticity to the film as does the inclusion of Rwandan survivors in various on- and off-screen roles. Bonus features include a 38-minute "making of" feature that's rich with perspective and history thanks to extensive interview footage of producers, actors, and crew members personally affected by the genocide in Rwanda and two separate full-length film commentaries; one by director Michael Caton-Jones and another featuring writer David Wolstencroft and producer David Belton. Contains strong violence and disturbing images. --Tami Horiuchi

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Hurt, Hugh Dancy, Dominique Horwitz, Louis Mahoney, Nicola Walker
  • Directors: Michael Caton-Jones
  • Writers: David Belton, David Wolstencroft, Richard Alwyn
  • Producers: Andrew Wood, David Belton, David M. Thompson, Jens Meurer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround), French (Dolby Surround), Spanish (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: September 18, 2007
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000RW3VDY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,454 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Beyond the Gates" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Dan Lucas on September 28, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
this movie should be required viewing for any american who forgets how lucky we all are. the acting is amazing and many scenes in the film are unforgetable. be warned that there are many disturbing images in the film. these aren't gratuitous as they paint the perfect picture of the madness in rwanda in 1994. one of the best films i have seen in a long time.
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To acknowledge the fact that genocides are still active in our supposedly enlightened times is terrifying, yet through films such as BEYOND THE GATES, HOTEL RWANDA, and SOMETIMES IN APRIL we are gradually bring informed about one particular genocide - that occurred in 1994 in Rwanda - and hopefully will make us as a global population more proactive in stemming the possibility of further acts of brutality and disregard of humanity. Writer David Wolstencroft and director Michael Caton-Jones have created one of the most powerfully poignant films about the genocide of the Tsutsi people by the Hutu people and by placing the film exactly where the genocide happened have added an intensely compelling atmosphere to an act that never should have happened.

In 1994, at the Ecole Technique Officielle, a school for the Rwandan children run by Europeans under the tutelage of Father Christopher (John Hurt) and with idealistic teachers such as the young Joe (Hugh Dancy), the incipient intertribal rioting between the Hutus and Tsutsis is 'monitored by the impotent United Nations led by Capitaine Delon (Dominique Horwitz). After the current leader of Rwanda is shot down in a helicopter tragedy, the Hutus begin killing the Tsutsi, butchering them with machetes and leaving the bodies to rot in the streets. The Tsutsis flock to the Ecole, looking for asylum and protection, and Father Christopher and Joe do everything in their power to provide food and shelter and safety. One particularly gifted student Marie (Claire-Hope Ashitey) works closely with the two men, gaining their admiration and love, and representing the desperate need of the Tsutsis. The UN forces refuse to fire on the invading Hutus and finally evacuate all white Europeans to be flow to safety out of Africa.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on October 4, 2007
Format: DVD
Like its predecessors, Hotel Rwanda & Sometimes in April [a HBO presentation], Beyond the Gates is a searing account of the horrors of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 that claimed over 800,000 lives. Yet, this movie is on some levels more poignant as it examines people's faith in the face of human hatred and man's inhumanity towards another.

The movie centers around Father Christopher [John Hurt in an amazingly inspiring performance] who is the parish priest based at the Ecole Technique Officielle, a technical school that is also the base of a UN peacekepping force that is mainly there in the capacity of observers. John Hurt plays the role of the priest here with a strong touch of humanity, humility and love for his parishioners. There is also Joe Connor [Hugh Dancy] who plays an idealistic young teacher who finds himself confused and helpless when the horrors of the genocide become more apparent to him.

Of course, for those familiar with the history of the Rwandan genocide, there need be no elaboration on what the outcome in this movie is...to avoid giving too much away in terms of plot, the main story here deals with what happens to those seeking refuge at the school when the majority Hutus begin to exact horrific vengeance upon the minority Tutsi population by butchering, maiming, and murdering them with machetes - a death so horrific that we cannot but flinch and look away from the brutal, macabre scenes where no one is spared, be it children, women, elderly nuns etc.

In spite of the horrors of the story unfolding in this movie, we the viewers get to see human grace in the face of great evil, and this is something to take heart in. This is a definite must-see for all of us, especially given the horrors of man vs man, even till the present day, where genocide still happens, and when powerful nations continue to remain impotent in putting a stop to such atrocities.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Brian E. Erland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 29, 2008
Format: DVD
The '05 release `Beyond the Gates' is not a film to watch if you're in the mood for an evening of light, escapist entertainment. Based on true events during the Rwandan genocide in '94, this film delivers a riveting, disturbing and profound examination of human nature, hatred, suffering and the innate desire to find God in the chaos when He's no where to be found. Watching the UN official refusing to acknowledge these horrific circumstances as genocide clearly shows how far removed from the truth the world has strayed.

As I sit at the computer writing this review I see in my mind's eye the dark, beautiful African face of Clare-Hope Ashitey who played the part of Marie, student and love interest to Joe (Hugh Dacy), an occidental teacher who came to Africa hoping to "make a difference". When Marie asks him "why did you leave us" her question is nothing less than an indictment of mankind.

My Highest Recommendation.
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Two quick things. This film is called "Shooting Dogs" in the rest of the world. That title refers to the UN soldiers not being able to use their weapons to protect anyone, but they could use them to shoot the dogs to keep them from feeding on the dead bodies that were rotting everywhere around Rwanda during those horrible days. Also, the characters of the Priest and Joe Connor (and maybe others) are fictional creations through which a true story is told. The events happened as depicted at the technical school. In fact, much of the film was shot at the actual school where these horrors occurred.

The time frame of the film is only a few days in April 1994, but the tension is so great that it seems as if it lasted forever. I don't want to tell you exactly what happens in the movie, but it is a film about choices. Everyone in the movie has alternatives and what they choose to do will leave you horrified, pained, and, in some cases, amazed.

There is one bit of video that I believe is actual news footage of an American (I believe) diplomat trying the most awful locutions to try and avoid saying the word genocide. Young people who were born in the late 1980s or early 1990s are young enough to not even be aware of the slaughter of 800,000 people in 100 days in 1994. There are several good movies on the subject and I recommend that we educated our young people on the subject. What recommends this film, in my mind, is the fact that we see how closely the Hutus and Tutsis lived and worked at the school before the slaughter began. Everyone who sees the film will wonder how people could turn on each other like this. The movie also gives the lie to the phony concept of race.

John Hurt is terrific as the worn out but still devoted Catholic priest, Christopher.
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