“At first, life is relatively calm at the European-run school where UN peacekeepers provide protection for students and refugees alike, in a country scarred by historically warring factions. And a wise if world-weary Catholic priest (John Hurt) is an apt spiritual guide for an idealistic young teacher (Hugh Dancy). But when Hutu militia launch a bloody attack on the school, the two men must search their faith and decide whether to face death amongst the refugees or flee for safety.’
“Beyond the Gates” is rated R for strong violence, disturbing images and language.
Unfortunately, “Beyond the Gates” follows other recent films depicting African genocides “Hotel Rwanda,” “Blood Diamond,” “The Last King of Scotland,” etc. I hate to say this, but those other films kind of steal the impact of this story. They all feature Africans killing each other brutally. They all depict genocide. They all show white lead characters falling in love with Africa then being horrified by the brutality. They all show the UN bailing out and leaving people to die. They all begin following formulas. The result is you start feeling a little less shocked by the atrocities depicted, and that’s a real shame.
If you’re a fan of John Hurt’s or if you’re interested in films set in Africa, I highly recommend this movie. Other similar films do steal some of its impact, but it leaves an impact nevertheless.
You’ll find a solid offering of bonus features on this DVD. First up is the38 minute “Making of” featurette. You learn about the casting, what it was like filming in Rwanda, and more. Also included are Audio Commentaries with the Director, Screenwriter, and Producer as well as “Ways to Get Involved: The International Rescue Committee’s Efforts with War-Torn Communities and Uprooted People.”