3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: End of the Spear [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
"End of the Spear", based on true events, tells the story of a group of missionaries who get killed by a savage native tribe in South America. It's an independent film with pretty good production values and is for the most part well made, and it has a strong performance by Louie Leonardo. But it suffers from some very big flaws: The missionaries, who seem to be meant as heroes of the film (and remember, this film was made and financed by Christians), are portrayed as anything but heroic: They come off as reckless, ignorant and stupid (and I'm not saying the real-life missionaries this film is based on were, but they are in this film). They want to "make contact" with the natives. Their motivation is never made clear; it seems they want to impress the natives with their airplane. They fly over their village and shout and throw things down from their plane. Even though they behave like ignorant bullies toward the natives, the film wants us to sympathise with the missionaries. Later, they land and meet with the natives, but they haven't even bothered to learn their language, so I don't know how they planned to do any preaching or other missionary work. The result is a big misunderstanding where the natives - understandably - feel threatened, killing the missionaries. The film (i.e. the filmmakers) seems completely unaware that the natives may have killed the missionaries because they were scared; instead it is implied they did it because they were culturally and morally inferior to our good, Christian, American heroes. Their widows then go off into the jungle to live with the natives to help them change their ways. It's strange to imagine how nobody involved in the making of "End of the Spear" realized how ethnocentric and culturally imperialistic the film really is. Another problem is the narrative. The plotting is weak and the pace slow, especially in the last half of the film. And the climax of the film goes so over the top it almost becomes a parody of itself.
Despite a potentially fascinating story and competent (up to a point) filmmaking, its huge flaws make "End of the Spear" difficult to enjoy and appreciate. It's a disappointment; I'm sure this story could have been made into a much better, less one-sided, film. Weak 2 star rating. For a better version of the story, see the documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor, which lets the real people tell the story, and shed some light on the motivations instead of portraying them as cartoon characters.