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
Reviews by MARK EZRA STOKES and MIKE FURCHES
This page was created on March 2, 2002
This page was last updated on
May 29, 2005
2 Click here to read the testimony
of one of the tortured prisoners set free by Gordon's CREED
by David L. Cunningham
Screenplay by Brian Godawa
Book by Ernest Gordon
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
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
music by Trevor Jones
Cinematography by Greg Gardiner
Film Editing by Tim Silano
For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM,
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG
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.
the Son sets free, is free indeed."
powerful conversation piece.
journey from the prison of self-survival
to the freedom of self- sacrifice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To End All Wars (Through the Valley of Kwai),
February 17, 2002
Reviewer: Douglas Forer from Princeton, NJ USA
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.
edtions of Gordon's book are available
End All Wars
(Updated Movie Edition of Original)
by Ernest Gordon
Through the Valley of the Kwai
(as Orinally published)
by Ernest Gordon
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
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.
July 5th, 1999, he was honored by Queen Elizabeth in Scotland along
with other surviving officers of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.
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".
January 21, 2002
Former University chaplain dead at 85
By ZACHARY A. GOLDFARB
Princetonian Staff Writer
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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.
2 Click here to read the testimony
of one of the tortured prisoners set free by Gordon's CREED
a jungle war of survival,
they learned sacrifice.
In a prison of brutal confinement,
they found true freedom.
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.
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
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.