Some people say we live in a world of irreconcilable differences. Others say that true peace, lasting peace, cannot be obtained be obtained because we haven’t found a way to change the human heart.
Is a quote from the beginning of the movie and yet it is so much more than that isn’t it? Is it not the very essence of coming to Christ – the changing of the heart?
I came upon this film without any intention of doing so and thus with no preconceived expectations or ideas of what I was to be experiencing. But if I had of done – started viewing this film with a preconceived idea – perhaps of a gentle loving story with a clear healthy, maybe even an inspiring, message – then the opening scenes of men, women and children and even infants from the ‘Waodani tribe’ being slaughtered – certainly would have set me right.
And I feel that I really do need to make the presence of that content clear, right from the start of this review. This film is written ‘from a true story‘ and as such has not left anything to the imagination concerning some of the more graphic and violent details. But then it should be remembers that the film is not dealing with modern-day mid-town Wexford or even down-town New York. It is instead set (mainly) in and around 1956 and dealing with an tribe (the ‘Waodani tribe) indigenous to the jungles of Ecuador.
It is a story of two worlds, two ways of life, perhaps even two different times meeting and a story of how a group of missionaries sought to spread the word to those not of their faith or even of their world, culture or understanding.
And I have to tell you that it is, in the opinion of this reviewer, an excellent film with wonderful cinematography and a very sensitive, yet brave and honest storyline.
As usual I am doing my best to adhere to my policy of not delivering any spoilers and as a result of this there is very little that I really want to say about the details of this film. Primarily because I truly do feel that a great deal of this films beauty and value is in the first-hand and untainted experiencing of it, rather than from seeing it with a view to checking out someone else’s – especially mine – opinion.
In terms of character portrayal I have but two comments to make here…
Firstly, so that the film remained authentic to it’s setting and cultural content there is of course some nudity. Bare butts and breasts are all part of this. So if you are of a delicate or even prudish nature when it comes to this kind of thing please be warned. But I emphasise that this is not gratuitous in anyway, is – in my opinion – respectfully handled and essential for the film’s authenticity.
Secondly, amongst all of the excellent and seemingly natural character portrayals the acting of Chase Ellison (featured in the picture above) in his character portrayal of the young Steven Saint, is extremely good. And his character – the pain and suffering and yet also the forgiveness – really is such an essential part of this film and story.
This is not a film with a myriad of sub-plots going on in order to keep you engaged or to offer something for a number of different demographics. It is pure and uncomplicated and invites the thoughtful viewer to reflect upon and unwrap some essential and important question. Such as ones invited by the statement in the image above (and which I repeated as a quote below) and spoken by a compassionate father to a loving and fearful son.
Son, we can’t shoot the Waodani. They’re not ready for heaven… we are.
For those interested, the story behind this film is well-worth researching and is truly inspirational. I recommend this film to you. It is pure, it is real, it is untarnished and bold. It is as inspiring in its purity as it is disturbing in the portrayal of some of the events which took place.
Written By: Bill Ewing, Bart Gavigan, Jim Hanon.
Directed By: Jim Hanon
Starring: Louie Leonardo, Chad Allen, Jack Guzman
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Christian
Released: January 20th, 2006 (USA)
Runtime: 108 mins
Age Rating/Certificate: 12/PG-13
Controversial Language: None
Nudity and/or Sexual Content: Yes – see review above
Potentially Disturbing Scenes: Yes – see review above
For Faith and Ful-film-ent Rating: 8/10 Highly Recommended. ††††††††††
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