Tonight’s movie tears at my soul. Beyond the Gates tells the story of the École Technique Officielle in Rwanda.
As the 1994 genocide , Tutsis began arriving at the school, seeking protection from the 90 Belgian UN peacekeepers stationed there. Eventually 2,000 Rwandans arrived at the school, including 400 children. On April 11, the UN peacekeepers left. The people were massacred shortly afterwards.
A number of Europeans also arrived at the school. They were evacuated a couple of days before the peacekeepers departed. The scene is wrenching. Absolutely wrenching. In the film, two Europeans choose to stay at that point. It makes me wonder – deeply wonder – about the choices I make in relation to the least of my sisters and brothers and in relation to the least within myself. Thanks to my friend Bridgett for that image.
Characters pose a number of questions in the course of the film:
Does God love everyone? Does God even love those men outside on the roads?
Where is God in everything that is happening – in this suffering?
How much pain can a human being take?
And the historical question:
In an utterly haunting movie, two scenes stand out:
- The Rwandans hiding in the school ask the departing peacekeepers to shoot them – that they might die quickly.
- Before the end, children receive their first communion. Did that happen? I do not know. But there is much to ponder about the parallels between Jesus’ crucifixion and genocide.
The film originally carried the title of Shooting Dogs – a reference that, under their mandate, the peacekeepers could shoot scavenging dogs because they might carry disease, but could not act to stop those committing the killing. What a world we have made.
In the last scene, set some five years after the massacre, one of the young women who survived makes here way to England where she talks to one of the Europeans who left. It is a gentle confrontation that ends with the words, given to the survivor:
We are fortunate. All this time we have been given. We must use it well.
Another sleepless night filled with powerful emotions and disturbing thoughts lie ahead.
See you along the Trail.
- Sometimes heroes fail (graybeardtrail.wordpress.com)