Does reconciliation work? Shortly after the missionaries were killed, the wife of one of the slain men and the sister of another went to live with the tribe. Within two years, the tribal homicide rate had dropped more than 90 percent. That beats any "tough on crime" approach in the United States.
Among the many remarkable ingredients in this film is that with the exception of the handful of American actors, the rest of the actors are amateurs. But the performances by the Panamanian Indians are as good and as convincing as anything you'll see coming from a professional cast.
All films carry messages ("Brokeback Mountain" is not just a movie about cowboys). In recent years, with some notable exceptions, many of those messages have appealed to our lower nature. "End of the Spear" is not only a true story, but also a compelling one. For those, like me, who have longed to go to movies that are uplifting instead of bottom feeding, this is one of the best.
"End of the Spear" is the latest in a steadily growing number of films that are taking on culture on its own turf. Instead of cursing darkness, more independent producers are beginning to make good movies (do not confuse "good" in content with bad in execution) containing positive messages.
This is a story that is not only worth retelling, but is worth emulating. A liberal neighbor of mine has a sign in his yard that reads, "War is not the answer." We can debate that, but we can't debate reconciliation as the answer. It works, as this marvelous movie so beautifully and breathtakingly demonstrates.