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Beyond the Gates of Splendor

134 customer reviews

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(Oct 04, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Beyond the Gates" is a feature length documentary film experience about the Waodani Indians and the missionary men and women who have given their lives to reach them. This powerful emotional journey begins with the Waodani describing their way of life before the missionaries visited them in 1956. Narrated by the son of one of the missionaries and each of the wives of the men who died, the audience takes a nostalgic trip back in time to see how the men and women came to meet up with each other in Ecuador. An inspiring story of forgiveness and love.

While the primary lesson of Beyond the Gates of Splendor is about the power of Christian love, this extraordinary documentary transcends its missionary message with a universal tale of cultural exchange, murder, and the ultimate act of forgiveness. After establishing that the Waodani Indians in the Amazon basin of Ecuador had endured several generations of violent homicide among tribal neighbors, the film's central story begins to unfold: As American missionaries discover the Waodani in the mid-1950s, their Christian outreach goes smoothly until 1956, when lies and misunderstandings lead to the spear-killing of five of the missionary men whose wives and children--including narrator Steve Saint (whose father was among those killed)--responded to tragedy by living peacefully among the Waodani over the decades that followed. Through home-movie footage, photographs, and eyewitness accounts by American and Waodani alike, this incredible-but-true story of love and understanding unfolds with considerable power, urging the viewer to consider the meaning of this remarkable example of unified humanity. Is the missionary impulse a pure and beneficial one? Are the Waodani best left alone and ignorant of the wide world beyond their village? With deep tragedy, rich humor, and an overwhelming sense of compassion, writer/director Jim Hanon ponders these and other questions, hampered only by an overbearing score (by Ronald Owen) that's lushly beautiful at best, but too often maudlin, manipulative, and shamelessly heavy-handed. It's likely that Christian viewers will be most deeply affected by the film's thematic parallels to the lessons of Christ, but anyone with an ounce of compassion will be similarly moved and astonished. Not surprisingly, Hanon later dramatized the factual events of Beyond the Gates of Splendor in his 2006 feature film The End of the Spear. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Steve Saint, Carmela, Dawa, Dayumae, Frank Drown
  • Directors: Jim Hanon
  • Writers: Jim Hanon
  • Producers: Bill Ewing, Brent Ryan Green, Ginny Saint, Heather Olive, Kevin McAfee
  • Format: Full Screen, Dubbed, Subtitled, Closed-captioned, Color, Abridged, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround), French (Dolby Surround), Spanish (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: October 4, 2005
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009XT8A6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,647 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Beyond the Gates of Splendor" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Robin Simmons VINE VOICE on September 30, 2005
Format: DVD
It's rare when a genuinely inspiring, authentically spiritual true story breaks into the secular market place. BEYOND THE GATES OF SPLENDOR (Fox) is a critically acclaimed, word of mouth hit about the unexpected relationships families of murdered missionaries have with the native killers.

At its heart, it is about nothing less than sacrifice (human) and redemption (Godly).

This artistic, feature-length documentary story is set among the Ecuadorian Waodani Indians and the missionary men and women who gave their lives to reach them.

In late 1956, around this time of year, the Los Angeles Times featured headlines that said: "SAVAGES KILL FIVE MISSIONARIES." It was a big, brutal story that jolted the hearts of readers safely ensconced in the Eisenhower era.

I was not ready for the emotional intensity of this memorable story that begins with Waodani tribe person describing their way of life prior to the missionaries' arrival.

Primitive, archival home movies from the missionary families are intercut with sharp, colorful, contemporary interviews with the Waodani.

What is so astonishing is seeing how faith and forgiveness can bring love and healing in the most unexpected and extreme of circumstances.

This superb documentary is an adaptation of Elisabeth Elliot's book. A theatrical feature based on the murders and aftermath, "End of the Spear," will be released in 2006.
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91 of 97 people found the following review helpful By H. Mortensen on September 12, 2005
Format: DVD
My family and I live in Panama and we were involved in the filming of "End of the Spear", a soon-to-be-released feature film made by the same production company and based on the stories in this documentary. I can testify to the very high caliber of the director and all the people involved in making these films. This documentary is well-made, and makes this true story of missionaries gripping and relevant. By the end you feel like you have met these men and understood their story.

It tells the story of 5 missionaries and their families. They were trying to reach a savage group of killers, the Waoranis of Ecuador, with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through a number of misunderstandings, the Waoranis killed these men, not understanding that they wanted to be friends. Years later several family members of the murdered missionaries tried again to reach the Waoranis. They lived among them and shared God's love with them, and today the Waorani culture and people have transformed. Today the murderers of those missionaries are like family members to the missionaries' families. The story is told through film footage, still photos and interviews with surviving participants. The Waoranis' interviews are in their language, with English subtitles.

This film is appropriate for all ages. It's refreshing to see the story of people so dedicated to an ideal that they will die for it. And then to see these former savage killers, together with the families of those they killed - wow, it's powerful stuff. Near the end of the shoot here in Panama, we spent an incredible evening meeting both the Waoranis featured in the documentary and several of the family members of the missionaries. The joy and love you see in this film is authentic.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Chris Luallen on November 13, 2005
Format: DVD
"Beyond the Gates Of Splendor" is the incredible story of five missionary families who go to Ecuador in the 1950's. Their mission suffers a tremendous tragedy when four of the men decide to attempt to make contact with the Waodani tribe, a culture considered to be among the most violent in the world according to anthropologists. Three Waodanis come out to meet the men and the two groups interact with pleasure and curiousity. But when two of the tribal members, lovers whose relationship is opposed by the tribe, return they make up a story about being attacked by the "foreigners" in order to explain why they had gone off without their escort. The tribe then proceeds to attack and kill the four missionaries waiting by the river. Of course, their families are shattered by this tragedy. But, later on, two of the female missionaries return to Ecuador along with their children. They eventually befriend several of the Waodani women who had left the jungle and finally ended up going back to live with the Waodanis in their rainforest home for several years.

By the way, I am an atheist who feels that some missionary work can, in fact, have a largely negative impact on the indigenous peoples they are trying to convert. But even I was moved by the the sense of dedication and forgiveness shown by these women when they went to live with the same Waodanis who had murdered their husbands. But, even more so, I was interested in this movie from an anthropological point of view. It was fascinating to hear the comments of the anthropologists who had gone from working with one of the world's most peaceful tribes in Malaysia to now studying one of the most violent in the Waodanis.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By BN2122 on October 7, 2005
Format: DVD
This film is the best documentary out there.

Reluctant Cheesehead - This documentary won Audience Choice at the Palm Beach Internation Film Festival...a SECULAR event. Maybe you should watch it before you write a review? Your comments contradict what the indians themselves say in the film.

I am looking forward to the release of End of the Spear!!!
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