Saturday, September 29, 2007
Beyond the Gates
I watched this movie last night while the boys were at the football game and Peach was in bed. What a powerful movie. I would not say that it is entertaining -- it is far too serious a subject to entertain you. But, it is very moving and the perfect movie considering that I'm reading Left to Tell -- also about the Rwandan holocaust.
Like Hotel Rwanda, this movie is about the civil war in Rwanda in 1994 and the subsequent genocide of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis by their fellow countrymen -- Hutus-- throughout the country.
Beyond the Gates is set in a Rwandan Catholic school, with a Catholic priest and an English schoolteacher at its nucleus. The school becomes a refuge for thousands of Tutsis under the protection of the UN Belgian force. The school and the entire surrounding area are under siege by militant Hutus. The movie ends when the UN force pulls out of the school and the Tutsis are left defenseless. The extraordinary Catholic priest, as one of his last acts on earth, celebrates mass and distributes Holy Eucharist to the people. What a beautiful deed.
While the story is true and the movie was actually filmed on location, I have not found any stories that prove that Father Christopher indeed existed, although I'm certain there were many Catholic priests and other religious who were killed in the holocaust.
What I never realized about the genocide, is that with a majority of Rwandans being Catholic, the civil war was as much Catholics against Catholics as it was Hutu against Tusti. There is powerful scene in the movie when Father Christopher becomes enraged at the people who attend mass every Sunday but who are apparently just going through the motions. He is incensed at how hundreds of thousands of men, who believe in God, could kill hundreds of thousands of fellow countrymen in cold blood.
This movie is rated R for strong language and extreme violence. It's not for the young. I would let my 17 yo see it, but not my younger teens.