2002 / Jim Hanon
Beyond The Gates of Splendor is an eye opening, heart-warming and life affirming documentary telling the story of 5 families and their connection with the Huaorani people. The Huaorani's were notorious for being the most violent people on Earth, who were feared by every other tribe within the Amazonian region. In the mid 50's five missionary families relocated to the jungles of Ecuador and in 1956 the five men decided to make contact with the Huaoranis. Tragically the five men never returned and were speared to death. The story made headlines back in America but amazingly the women and children remained in Ecuador, determined to continue the work their husbands started. And so they walked into the Huaoranis' territory, made contact and performed the miraculous feat of changing an entire culture. Within months the tribe abandoned it's traditions of killing and with a greater understanding of the world around them, they became a gentle and friendly people. Amazingly the very tribes-men who killed their husbands became protective figures to these American women and children and an unbreakable bond formed that exists to this day. This is an incredible story and the film is made all the more powerful with the abundance of footage used. The five men who were slain took film and photos right up to the point of death and their equipment was later found and salvaged. Candid interviews with the wives, children and tribes-people make the film very unique. It puts life in perspective and emphasises that mankind is one, regardless of culture. This film engaged me deeply and I have just learned that a companion feature film was made, called End Of The Spear. It was directed by the same guy and I guess I'll be hunting it down. Definitely see this is you get the chance.