End of the Spear

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
End of the Spear
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJim Hanon
Screenplay by
Produced by
  • William Bowling
  • Bill Ewing
Narrated byChad Allen
CinematographyRobert Driskell
Edited byMiles Hanon
Music byJos Breg
Bearing Fruit Communications
Distributed by
Release dates
  • December 2, 2005 (2005-12-02) (Los Angeles)
  • January 20, 2006 (2006-01-20) (United States)
Running time
108 minutes
Budget$10 million
Box office$12.1 million

End of the Spear is a 2005 American biographical adventure drama film directed by Jim Hanon, written by Bill Ewing, Bart Gavigan and Hanon, and stars Louie Leonardo and Chad Allen. The film recounts the story of Operation Auca, in which five American Christian missionaries attempted to evangelize the Waodani people of the tropical rain forest of Eastern Ecuador.

Based on actual events in 1956, wherein five male missionaries were speared by a group of the Waodani tribe, it is told from the perspective of Steve Saint (son of Nate Saint, one of the missionaries killed in the encounter), and Mincayani, one tribesman who participated in the attack.[1] The two formed a lifelong bond that continued until Mincaye's death in April 2020.[2]


The Waodani people of the tropical rain forest along the Curaray River in a remote and mostly undeveloped the Amazonian region of Ecuador live with a traditional animist worldview. As children, Mincayani saves Dayumae after a vicious nighttime spear attack on a Waodani village by a neighboring tribe, and Dayumae's younger sister (in Dayumae's care) is killed in the attack. Other events of tribal life are pictured. In a conflict with her family, Dayumae—who, in part, has been blamed for the death of her sister—decides to leave the tribe for her safety, and runs to the "foreigners" around her: foreigners who speak Spanish and dress very differently.

Nate Saint, a missionary jungle pilot and aircraft mechanic, lives with his family at a mission outpost where his job includes flying other missionaries and supplies into remote locations. He builds a small airplane out of wood with his eight year old son, Steve. Nate becomes obsessed with making contact with a jungle tribe who have resisted contact with the outside world before, often violently: the Waodani. Rachel, Nate's older sister has had extensive contact with the now much older Dayumae, and has learned some of the Waodani language from her. Nate does not want to tell his sister of his and others plans to attempt contact with the Waodani, for fear she would pass the information along to her superiors, and the planned contact would be forbidden. Young Steve learns a few words of Waodani—"I am your sincere friend"—from Rachel, and ultimately begs his father to teach them before his father and several others land their airplane on a sandbar in the Curaray, and attempt to make peaceful contact with the Waodani, who they know people that area of the forest that surrounds the sandbar.

Mincayani is now a much older and developed warrior, exhibiting great leadership in the tribe. After some days, one Waodani man and two women approach the missionaries who have camped on the sandbar, and have a reasonably friendly, although difficult to communicate, first encounter. Subsequently, misinformation about the meeting is shared with the other Waodani tribal members, and a group of Waodani warriors decide to attack and spear the foreigners. They do so, and all five men associated with the airplane at the sandbar camp are killed with spears; the airplane—which the Waodani refer to as the large wood bee—is destroyed with punctures and slashing by spears. Authorities from Ecuador and the US military come up river in canoes in a large party, protected by many rifles, and recover four of the five bodies.

Years later, Steve Saint flies from the US to attend the funeral of Rachel Saint, and comes into contact again with Mincayani. Mincayani asks Steve to live in Ecuador, and become family to the Waodani, like Rachel had. Steve says that would be "impossible;" but does do so a year or so later.

Later, Mincayani tells Steve he needs to show him something, with no other detail, and takes Steve on the Curaray river in a canoe to the sandbar where his father had been killed many years earlier. Mincayani digs furiously in the bank of the river, and uncovers a bit of the metal frame and fabric of Nate's airplane that the Waodani had buried, and informs Steve this is where his father died; and that he had speared his father. Mincayani gives Steve his spear, with the point at his own chest, and tells Steve to kill him. Steve struggles emotionally but does not do so. He tells Mincayani that his father did not lose his life, but he gave his life. It is, as it has been for the Waodani people for some decades now, truly the "end of the spear."


Release and reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Opening with a modest first weekend (January 20–22, 2006), End of the Spear took 8th place (behind one new and three expanding releases) with $4.3 million. It became one of few independent Christian films to draw more than $1 million in its first three weekends. By the end of its run, it had grossed $12.1 million.[citation needed] It has since grossed over $20 million in rentals and video sales.[citation needed]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 41%, based on reviews from 54 critics. The website's consensus reads, "Shoddy filmmaking and a lack of character development derail what could be a potentially compelling tale."[3]

The film won a Crystal Heart Award[4] as well as the Grand Prize for Best Dramatic Feature[5] at the 2005 Heartland Film Festival.


Some secular critics believed the story may be seen as presenting an uncritical view of a situation where native peoples were eventually exploited regardless of "good intentions"[6] such as concerns[clarification needed] about SIL International.[citation needed]

There was some concern among various Christian groups that lead actor Chad Allen, who portrays Nate Saint (and his son Steve as an adult), is openly gay. Some Christian groups that had initially planned to promote the film began to question whether they should. Steve Saint, who was heavily involved in production, has stated in interviews that he himself had reservations, but that God indicated to him that Allen was the proper choice. In the end, he couldn't see a better actor filling the role of his father. His public pronouncements did much to quell the controversy.[7]

Other Christian groups, such as VCY America's Vic Eliason, wished the film had more explicitly portrayed the Gospel message (i.e. salvation through Jesus Christ). However, the Gospel presented is the same as was to the Waodani; in concepts and symbols that are present in everyday Waodani language (with the name of "God" being replaced with "Waengongi", the name of the Waodani creator god who no longer communicated with the people).[8]

Due to the limitations of the cinematic format, the filmmakers had to compress various events and limit the number of characters. As a result, the main Waodani protagonist, Mincayani, is not actually one person in real life but rather a composite of the real-life Waodani named Mincaye and various others. Some of Steve's sister's experiences were attributed to Steve, and the dramatic climactic reconciliation between Steve as an adult and Mincayani did not actually happen as depicted – it was more of a slow, growing love and friendship between the real-life Steve and Mincayani.[1][2][9][10]


Extra footage[edit]

The DVD and some theaters where the movie was shown also included extra footage after the movie ended showing the real life Mincayani (Mincaye) and the real life Steve Saint in our modern day. Mincaye visited Steve Saint in America with humorous results while trying to understand American culture.


End of the Spear: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedJanuary 24, 2006 (2006-01-24)
LabelWord Records

End of the Spear: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on January 24, 2006 by Word Records. The soundtrack features most of the instrumental score by Ron Owen, plus featured music from the film by known CCM artists like Steven Curtis Chapman and BarlowGirl, among others.

Track listing[edit]

No.TitlePerformed byLength
1."No Greater Love"Steven Curtis Chapman5:00
2."River Requiem"  
3."Darkness Falls"  
6."You Led Me"BarlowGirl3:52
7."Father and Son"  
9."Jaguar Hunt"  
12."Amazon Heights"  
13."Flight of the Wood Bee"  
15."Tears in the Sand"  
18."Always Love You"Nicole C. Mullen4:03
20."Moving On"  
22."Mincayani and Dayumae"  
23."I Will Not Kill"  
24."First Meeting"  
25."The Way of the Tribe"  
26."Time That Is Left"Mark Schultz3:57
28."She's Gone"  
29."Rachel's Funeral"  
30."God Follower"Steven Curtis Chapman4:18


  1. ^ a b January 2006 Decision Magazine: For the love of a tribe... Retrieved on June 5, 2007.
  2. ^ a b 29 April 2020: Remembering Mincaye | ITEC. Retrieved on April 30, 2020.
  3. ^ "End of the Spear". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2021-10-01.
  4. ^ Films, 2005, archived from the original on 2006-02-09, retrieved 2006-02-08
  5. ^ Heartland Film Festival Concludes Another Record Breaking Year, 2005, archived from the original on 2006-10-03, retrieved 2006-02-08
  6. ^ Gonzalez, Ed (2005-12-21), "End of the Spear", Slant Magazine, retrieved 2014-07-18
  7. ^ 26 January 2006: Christian Studio Explains Hiring of Gay Actor. Retrieved on June 5, 2007. Archived May 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Saint, Steve (2005), The End of the Spear, ISBN 0-8423-6439-0
  9. ^ 18 January 2006: Death Worked Backwards Retrieved on June 5, 2007
  10. ^ Movie review of End of the Spear by Randy Alcorn Archived 2007-06-07 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on June 5, 2007.
  11. ^ 38th Annual GMA Awards on About.com

External links[edit]