Steve Saint as Himself
Carmela as Herself
Dawa as Herself
Dayumae as Herself
Frank Drown as Himself
Kathy Saint Drown as Herself
Elisabeth Elliot Gren as Herself
Dave Howard as Himself
Kimo as Himself
Olive Fleming Liefeld as Herself
Marilou McCully as Herself
Mincaye as Himself
Col. Malcolm Nurnberg as Himself
Ompodae as Herself
Paa as Himself
Carole Robarchek as Herself
Clayton Robarchek as Himself
Ginny Saint as Herself
Jaime Saint as Himself
Jesse Saint as Himself
Rachel Saint as Herself
Valerie Elliot Shepard as Herself
Tementa as Himself
Marj Saint Van Der Puy as Herself
Barbara Youderian as Herself
Beyond the Gates has a great story to tell and what makes the story so compelling is that it is a factual account of one dedicated group’s incredible will and desire to save the most violent society on earth, not only from themselves but also from the encroachment of western society.
In 1956, five young missionaries brought their families to the jungles of Ecuador in order to assist the native tribesmen. While talking with a friendly group, they heard stories of savage Indians (Waodani) deeper in the interior. The missionaries found the Waodani and spent several weeks flying a plane over them and dropping gifts down to them, leading to a decision that person to person contact can be made. The missionaries began to establish a rapport with the Waodani but, unknown to them, an internal conflict developed in the tribe resulting in a savage attack.
That alone makes a gripping tale, but the response of the wives, and later the children, of the missionaries is the truly amazing story. Their personal beliefs and willingness to place themselves at risk for the people that killed their loved ones makes the viewer assess decisions and actions taken in their own lives.
The film is the first movie produced by Every Tribe Entertainment, and it is a very good first effort. Novice composer Ron Owen put together a score that is subdued and professional, adding emphasis at the correct times. Historical footage of the missionaries was shot on 16mm film stock and is exceptionally clear considering the time and location of the filming. The interviews done in Ecuador put the camera on the Waodani and let them tell their part of the story in their own words. However, the studio interviews done in the United States are fairly distracting. The camera often drifts from being focused onto the speaker down to centering on their chest. I understand that this is to represent the deep conviction of the speakers, but it comes across as if the cameraman was falling asleep on the job. Most people try to focus on the lips and face of the person speaking and a couple of times during the interviews the majority of the face drifted off of the top of the screen. The words are powerful enough that the cheap trick of focusing in on the heart was not necessary.
Who should see this movie? Anyone familiar with Elisabeth Elliot’s book “Through Gates of Splendor” will really appreciate seeing the effect she had on the generation that followed her. There are some powerful messages about faith and conviction that are subtly delivered over the course of the film and could be an inspiration to people that are finding themselves in need of an emotional boost. There is no action in the movie, all of the physical conflict is done off-screen. Surprisingly there is a fair amount of humor, and none of it is gallows humor. The film has a rating of PG-13 because of the events that it depicts, but it is a safe movie to show a younger child as long as there is an adult there to explain the moral significance of the actions. Overall, Beyond the Gates is a incredible story put to film. The production could have been a little better but it does not diminish the impact of the events it portrays. I know a large group of people that do not like to go to movies because they do not serve any higher purpose. This movie speaks directly to that crowd, but it speaks in a tone that can be enjoyed by a much larger audience.