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End of the Spear
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film includes some explicit violence: White hunters kidnap a Waodoni girl (in an early, harrowing chase and grab scene); the Waodonis kill each other and members of another tribe, out of vengeance and fear; and the Waodonis attack four white missionaries, spearing them brutally. As a child, the son of one of the dead missionaries lives briefly with his aunt and the tribe, unknowingly befriending the man who killed his father. Eventually, they have an emotional reckoning.
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What's the story?
Set in the late 1950s, END OF THE SPEAR is drawn "from a true story," in which Christian missionaries try to save Ecuadorian "savages" from themselves. The story centers on Nate Saint (Chad Allen) and his young son Steve, who, along with other missionaries, venture into the jungle to convert the Waodani tribe. Though Nate and his fellows speak no Waodani, they imagine they will be greeted as saviors. The Waodanis have good reason to fear the foreigners. They attack and kill Nate, whose last words are the only Waodani phrase he's learned -- "I'm your friend." Astounded to hear his language from a stranger, warrior Mincayani (Louie Leonardo) is haunted by the memory for years. The wives of the slain missionaries vow to continue their work, several deciding to go into the jungle, along with Dayumae, who was raised by and works for Nate's sister. Mincayani is suspicious of the white ladies, but his tribesmate Kimo (Jack Guzman) accepts Jesus Christ as his personal savior (using his own language and martyr myth to structure the conversion) and helps the strangers settle in.
Is it any good?
Then again, this Christian saga insistently promotes nonviolence, especially welcome given the preponderance of mainstream media violence committed in many religions' names. Further, the casting of the irrepressibly out and undeniably charismatic Chad Allen quietly assumes some openness on the part of the film's audience. Still, End of the Spear does fall back on unpleasant stereotypes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's two main themes. One, is evangelism an effective and fair or aggressive and intrusive way to change an entire community's behavior and culture? And two, how does the film make the case for nonviolence rather than vengeance, in response to devastating violence? How does the film use stereotypes to make this case -- generous and collaborative women, enthusiastic but ignorant white men, and violent and primitive natives?
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