TO END ALL WARS
A true story about four Allied POWs who endure harsh treatment at the hands of their Japanese captors during World War II while being forced to build a railroad through the Burmese jungle. Ultimately they find true freedom by forgiving their enemies.
Reviews by MARK EZRA STOKES and MIKE FURCHES


(2001)


This page was created on March 2, 2002
This page was last updated on May 29, 2005

Page 1

Page 2 Click here to read the testimony of one of the tortured prisoners set free by Gordon's CREED

Info on this posterDirected by David L. Cunningham
Screenplay by Brian Godawa
Book by Ernest Gordon

Robert Carlyle .... Campbell
Kiefer Sutherland .... Reardon
Ciarán McMenamin .... Ernest Gordon
Mark Strong .... Dusty
Sakae Kimura .... Ito
Masayuki Yui .... Noguchi
James Cosmo .... McLean
John Gregg .... Dr. Coates
Shu Nakajima .... Nagatomo
Yugo Saso .... Takashi Nagase
Pip Torrens .... Foxworth
Adam Sinclair .... Jocko
Winton Nicholson .... Duncan
Greg Ellis .... Primrose
James McCarthy .... Norman
Brendan Cowell .... Wallace Hamilton
Tracy Anderson .... Crazy Man
Duff Armour .... Jan
Sergio Alarcon .... Irishman
Christopher White .... Cockney
Jonathon Chapman .... Server
Jeremy Pippin .... Young Dutch
Dennis Ihara .... Tool Shed Guard
Robert Jobe .... Lars
Richard Lafond Jr. .... American Soldier
Robert Lee .... Paratrooper
Daryl Bonilla .... Young P.O.W
Clyde Yamashita .... Japanese NCO
Joji Yoshida .... Guard #1

Produced by
David L. Cunningham .... producer
Penelope L. Foster .... co-producer
Enock N. Freire .... associate producer
Jack Hafer .... producer
Nava Levin .... producer
Edwin L. Marshall .... associate producer
Greg Newman .... executive producer
Scott Walchek .... executive producer

Original music by Trevor Jones
Cinematography by Greg Gardiner
Film Editing by Tim Silano

Rated R
For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM, and MPAA.ORG.
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG

POSTER

To End All Wars
To End All Wars
40 in x 27 in
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This is a tremendous poster.
The POW wears a crown of barbed wire, suggesting the crown of thorns that Jesus wore. The Japanese Rising Sun can be viewed as a symbol of the rising Son.

"Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed."

A powerful conversation piece.



The journey from the prison of self-survival
to the freedom of self- sacrifice.

Click to enlargeSYNOPSIS:
A true story about four Allied POWs who endure harsh treatment at the hands of their Japanese captors during World War II while being forced to build a railroad through the Burmese jungle. Ultimately they find true freedom by forgiving their enemies.

At the height of World War II, Singapore is invaded by victorious Japanese armed forces. A small group of retreating Allied soldiers, led by Lt. Col. Stuart McLean, Major Ian Campbell, Captain Ernest Gordon, and Lt. Jim Reardon, is captured and led to a prison camp deep within the jungles of Burma-Siam.

Upon arriving at the camp the POWs are forced by the Japanese to build a railroad through treacherous jungle wilderness. Escape is their first priority, but when their commanding officer, Colonel McLean, is ruthlessly killed by the Japanese Head Guard, the men are left to themselves without a leader.

Major Campbell, the Colonel's second in command, rises to the challenge and starts planning a suicidal takeover of the camp by the prisoners. His greatest obstacle is loss of morale caused by slave labor, starvation, disease and brutal beatings.

Led by the example of British POW Dusty Miller, Ernest decides to start a college of liberal arts and a "church without walls" within the camp. The prisoners begin to regain their dignity and hope, but they are also encouraged to forgive their enemies and sacrifice themselves for their fellow POWs.

Soon Gordon and his school are in conflict with Campbell's planned coup d'etat. The rival values lead to split loyalties within the camp, and reveal that amidst so much physical suffering, the most treacherous war is the one fought within.

To End All Wars is an epic of courage and forgiveness. It's about the triumph of the human spirit over inhumanity, and the journey from the prison of self-survival to the freedom of self- sacrifice.

THE BOOK

To End All Wars (Through the Valley of Kwai),
February 17, 2002
Reviewer: Douglas Forer from Princeton, NJ USA

I was privileged to know the author of "Through the Valley of the Kwai", Rev. Ernest Gordon, for many years. Ernest Gordon died January 16, 2002. He has always been and will forever remain my hero. His story, first published in 1962, was republished in the 1980's as "Miracle on the River Kwai" and will enter its third printing February 2002 under yet another title, "To End All Wars". It is a powerful and moving first-hand account of how faith, love, fellowship, and the enduring human spirit transcended the unthinkable horrors and hatred of war and transformed the hearts and lives of men on both sides of the battle line. After recently attending Rev. Gordon's memorial service, we were presented with an unbelievable and sobering gift: a preview screening of a new movie, "To End All Wars", based on Ernest Gordon's book and scheduled for release around August 15, 2002. I would encourage every adult reader to see this powerful, disturbing, and ultimately victorious film. Just weeks before his death Rev. Gordon attended a private screening of the long-anticipated movie along with the movie's producer, Jack Hafer. After the screening, Rev. Gordon slowly approached the anxious producer and with strong emotion in his Scottish brogue proclaimed, "Jack, you caught the heart of it." Like his book, this movie has the power to change you! May the heart of it "catch" you, too.

Two edtions of Gordon's book are available

To End All Wars
(Updated Movie Edition of Original)
by Ernest Gordon


Through the Valley of the Kwai
(as Orinally published)
by Ernest Gordon

ERNEST GORDON

Click to enlargeErnest Gordon survived the horror of that World War II prison camp, and went on to become the Dean of the Chapel at Princeton University for 26 years. He faced death and found a greater calling: to serve others.

Gordon, who passed away in January 2002 at 85, shared his story with thousands of second generation Japanese university students, and began an ongoing reconciliation process between cultures.

On July 5th, 1999, he was honored by Queen Elizabeth in Scotland along with other surviving officers of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.

Click to enlargeOn February 4th, 2000, Mr. Gordon returned to the sight of what became known as the "Death Railway" in Thailand. There he met Mr. Takashi Nagase, a former officer in one of the Japanese camps, with the intent of making peace with his former enemy. This event was filmed and will be included at the end of "To End All Wars".

IN MEMORY

Monday, January 21, 2002
Former University chaplain dead at 85
By ZACHARY A. GOLDFARB
Princetonian Staff Writer
http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/

The Rev. Ernest Gordon, a former prisoner of war who was University chaplain emeritus and dean of the University Chapel from 1955 to 1981, died Wednesday morning at Princeton Medical Center. He was 85.

Gordon had an expansive career and is remembered with great warmth by his family and friends.

"He was an amazing man. I've had so many calls and e-mails and people just dropping by who he touched in so many different ways . . . from the different parts of his career," his son Alastair Gordon said.

Born in Greenock, Scotland on May 31, 1916, Gordon attended Glasgow and St. Andrews universities. In 1936 he joined the Royal Air Force and then later joined the Army Argyl and Suther-land Highlands. He left Singapore at the outbreak of World War II.

...Capt. Gordon was injured in a battle in Malaysia, and when Singa-pore surrendered to the Japanese in 1942, he and several men from his company escaped to sea. A Japanese warship later found and captured the men.

Gordon was imprisoned for three-and-a-half years. He suffered high temperatures, amoebic dysentery, jungle ulcers under his arms and legs, diphtheria, Beri Beri and the physical wounds from beatings by Japanese guards.

It was during this time in captivity that Gordon found a "central mission in his life" and dedicated himself to his faith, said his son.

"It started when he was in prison camp," his son said. "When men have nothing at all . . . faith in love and in spirit are the only things which get you through."

In 1950 Gordon was ordained in the Church of Scotland. Three years later he left his homeland for Long Island, NY., and then moved to Princeton in 1954, where he became Presbyterian Chaplain at the University. In 1955 he became dean of the chapel.

Harold Shafferman '75, who served as chapel deacon under Gordon, remembered him as a man who combined strength and compassion.

"His toughness had earned him the right to be gentle on a personal level," Shafferman said. "He was incredibly good in tuning in and understanding students, and he had this kind of tiger toughness . . . It was this wonderful blend of toughness and kindness to all students."

Gordon's story of survival and forgiveness sent "such a powerful message to students," Shafferman added.

An outspoken member of the University community, Gordon criticized the activities of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, brought Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to campus twice and spoke against the Vietnam War.

After he retired from the University, Gordon founded the Christian Relief Effort for the Emancipation of Dissidents (CREED), which aimed to help and protect Christians in the then-Soviet Union and its Eastern bloc, his son said. (Click here to read the testimony of one of the tortured prisoners set free by CREED)

Gordon was the author of several books, most notably the 1962 publication of "Through the Valley of the Kwai," which is the basis for a film to be released later this spring. The book examines Gordon's life as a prisoner-of-war and how he forgave his captors.

Gordon is survived by his son; his daughter Gillian Crozier, of London; his sister Grace Kerr, of Ramsgate; and six grandchildren. His wife Helen died in 1997.

Page 2 Click here to read the testimony of one of the tortured prisoners set free by Gordon's CREED

In a jungle war of survival,
they learned sacrifice.
In a prison of brutal confinement,
they found true freedom.
Click to go to Mike's BlogReview by MIKE FURCHES

People often ask me face to face, or via email if it is a blast or not to get to do the movie reviews I do? The short answer to that is; Yes but it does take some work and it takes some research. One of the things that continues to bless me is that I have never forgotten about the projects of Johnson City Tennessee where I grew up. To say the least I don’t come from the best of families and my past associations and actions have some things to be desired. I find myself often times thinking and saying, “Man I can’t believe that God has blessed me like this.” When seeing comments in Christianity Today, or getting the chance to meet Governors or even when seeing my reviews on a web site or in a different language I continue to be blown away by God’s goodness. I hope I never forget who I am or where I came from because it really is a testament to the power of Christ.


Review Continued here

 

Review by MARK EZRA STOKES
Mark Ezra Stokes lives in Ludowici – a peaceful, one-redlight town (that's "one traffic light" for those who don't speak Southern) in southeast Georgia – and is a staff reporter, copyeditor and columnist at The Press-Sentinel in Jesup, Ga. He is also a film critic for HIS Voice, a Christian newspaper in central Georgia. Mark is currently pursuing an M.A. in Screenwriting and Film Studies at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va.

As a nation, America is obsessed with freedoms and rights. Rightly so, since these two elements were key in our history. Sometimes, though, we miss the essence of true freedom. To End All Wars, which received little attention before its recent release on DVD, focuses on what encompasses true freedom.

The film, based on Ernest Gordon’s astonishingly true experiences, follows the spiritual journey of a band of Scottish war prisoners during World War II. Though they remain imprisoned for three years, several discover the freeing aspects of knowledge, forgiveness and self-sacrifice. Be warned: This R-rated film includes harsh language, military violence and some of the most moving examples of functional Christianity I’ve seen on-screen.

Though the story seems slow and generic at first, the methodical approach to character development used in To End All Wars creates a three-dimensional ensemble cast of new faces (other than 24's Kiefer Sutherland and Bond villain Robert Carlyle). Though the narrator’s Scottish dialect is less than eloquent, its accessibility works for the film, creating some very poetic insight that transcends the speaker’s muted voice. Much of this achievement in dialogue comes from rookie screenwriter Brian Godawa’s successful interpretation of Gordon’s book.
Despite budget constraints, the film is quite professional-looking, utilizing crisp and innovative cinematography. The ability of the makeup crew to visualize and then represent the brutalities of war on the bodies of the prisoners seems hauntingly accurate.

For a Christian film critic, To End All Wars is a gold mine. Christ figures (those characters who make the ultimate sacrifice for others) tend to crop up throughout the film -– not for the sloppy sake of being “Christ figures,” but to truly add meaning and depth to the various sacrifices made throughout. Though lesser writers would focus merely on the physical lack of freedom in a POW camp, Godawa takes the story further. He places emphasis on psychological and spiritual freedom, along with the sustaining power of hope.

Specifically impressive is the fact that To End All Wars takes the Judeo-Christian mindset to another level -– that of cultural dialogue. It’s this dialogue that adds volumes of spiritual depth to the film. When discussing justice with fellow prisoners, Gordon (Ciaran McMenamin) quotes Plato’s explanation in The Republic of what would happen if a man were truly just:

"He will be scourged, racked, bound . . . And at last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be crucified.”

This commentary on the price of justice not only fits the story progression, but it deepens the meaning behind the Christ figures. The film uses parts of Hamlet’s skull-palming death monologue to express the fragility of mortality, and the film's explanation of the Japanese Bushido culture brings something more than the typical “God is on our side” patriotism. The enemy becomes human (quite rare in war films) as we are reminded to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44), thus embodying the forgiveness that Christ embodied.

“The greatest act of humanity is that of forgiveness and understanding that whatever can rage in somebody else can rage in you,” said Sutherland, who plays an American war prisoner in the film. “The only way to really get past it collectively is through forgiveness. That’s what this film is all about.”

The Christian obligation to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Luke 20:25) –- respecting one’s superiors, no matter how tyrannical they may be -– is put into practice by Gordon and his war-prisoner pupils. Through his example, the film reveals the symbiosis between respect and forgiveness -– how each is necessary for the other to exist. Though Ito, a prison guard, dismisses Gordon’s Christian beliefs as “superstition,” he and the other captors discover that Gordon’s convictions benefit their cause. While Gordon appears to be selling out or passing up opportunities for evangelism through his submission and the forsaking of his rights, his devotion to love and respect produces results that transcend the barriers of culture and language.

To End All Wars provides a spectrum of life lessons -– from the dangers of cultural elitism to the internal consequences of vengeance and forgiveness, to the presence of hope in any circumstance. Its characters are believable people with differing sets of values and principles. The film is a visual application of the Bible without appearing forced or contrived. Though the characters quote and allude to scripture throughout the story, it fits. Rather than being messily inserted by an overzealous screenwriter, the verses are in the natural dialogue of well-written characters who would find comfort in those specific verses during those specific times.

What blows me away most, though, is that an overwhelming majority of the film really happened. That reality brings the whole idea of self-sacrifice into a new light, allowing the realization that, no matter how dire our circumstances may be, there can always be the hope to endure and to ultimately emerge victorious.

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To End All Wars © 2001 Argyll Film Partners, Gummshoe Productions, Pray For Rain Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.