BEYOND THE GATES
Courageous Faith in the Killing Fields
Release Date: March 09, 2007
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 110 minutes
Distributor: IFC Films
Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Executive Producer: None
Writer: David Wolstencroft
Address Comments To:Joshua Sapan, President/CEO
IFC Films/IFC Entertainment
Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc.
(Independent Movie Channel/IFC Films/Bravo Networks)
200 Jericho Quadrangle
Jericho, NY 11753
Phone: (516) 803-3000
Fax: (516) 803-4616
This powerful and emotionally nerve-wracking movie opens up at a Catholic school in the capital of Rwanda. Joe, a young British teacher, is full of enthusiasm. Father Christopher is a man of strong faith who has seen too often the fallenness of man.
Within a very short period of time, the world around the school starts to fall apart. The United Nations monitoring troops station themselves at the school. When the Hutu president's plane crashes, the Hutus go on a warpath against the Tutsis. Many Europeans and Tutsis take refuge in the school. The Hutus surround them with clubs and machetes.
Each foray into the town in the school truck by Joe or Father Christopher gets increasingly perilous. At one point, Joe, who does not go to mass, questions the existence of God. Father Christopher explains the faith in the resurrection of Jesus in a clear, biblical, almost evangelical fashion. His best and brightest students have accepted Jesus Christ. He continues to hold church services because he believes that faith is more important than works, but by his faith he shows forth his works.
When the U.N. clears out with the Europeans, Joe abandons the school, but Father Christopher stays with the flock. Years later, one young black girl who survives finds Joe at a posh school in Europe and asks him how he could have left.
There are many stories about Father Christopher. In the movie, he is very human at times. He curses the U.N. for allowing the genocide. He confronts the Hutus with love and a stern warning. This is not a movie about the Resurrection. It doesn't have a feel-good ending. It's a movie about Christ and bearing each other's burdens, willing to die for your enemies and your friends. It is one of the most difficult movies ever made to watch.
The movie could be highly recommended were it not for some of the foul language, most of it by a BBC crew. There's a clear distinction between the people of faith and the pagans, except at the point Father Christopher loses his temper at the UN officer.
Watching BEYOND THE GATES is more like watching a documentary. It has a you-are-there feel. It is also intensely emotional. The acting and the music serve the story.
The filmmakers are to be commended, but it would have been nice if they opened up the movie to a broader audience by being slightly more restrained. In this regard, HOTEL RWANDA, which is not as Christian, serves a broader audience and makes many of the same points about the Rwanda genocide.
BEYOND THE GATES is mesmerizing but difficult to watch. It has an extremely strong Christian worldview. Father Christopher explains the faith in the resurrection of Jesus in a clear, biblical fashion. He continues to hold church services because he believes that faith is more important than works, but by his faith he shows his works. The filmmakers should be commended, but it would have been nice if they had left out the foul language and more graphic violence.