1 hour, 55 minutes
R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.
for strong violence, disturbing images and language.
DVD Features: The Making of Beyond the Gates featurette; Ways to Get Involved: The International Rescue Committee's Efforts With War-Torn Communities and Uprooted People.
John Hurt ... Christopher
Hugh Dancy ... Joe Connor
Dominique Horwitz ... Capitaine Charles Delon
Louis Mahoney ... Sibomana
Nicola Walker ... Rachel
Steve Toussaint ... Roland
A Catholic School in the Rwandan capital of Kigal was under the protection of Belgian UN troops in 1994. The school becomes a refuge for Tutsis trying to escape the genocide. As the school is surrounded, it becomes obvious that it will fall, and whites with the privilege of being able to flee the murderous insanity agonize over abandoning their African friends. But it seems useless to remain.
As the priests, teachers, students, a handful of Belgian UN soldiers and terrified refugees huddle in temporary safety inside the grounds of Ecole Technique Officielle, the grinning, prowling horde of Hutus outside resemble nothing so much as the zombies in a horror movie, shuffling around and mindlessly waiting for the signal to attack.
Inside the compound, the Belgian soldiers' predicament is that they can't fire unless they're fired upon, which means they can only stand and watch as people are hacked to pieces outside the gates. Thankfully the violence largely takes place out of sight. The forces are led by Capitaine Delon (Dominique Horwitz "Crazy About Paris"), an increasingly haunted Belgian commander itching for a chance to disregard his orders. Delon's mandate is to monitor the peace, no more, no less. Of course, there is no peace to monitor. And the mandate will not change because of what happened in Somalia. The murder of U.S. troops during a humanitarian aid mission in 1992 squelched the political “will” for such interventions by the US and the UN. Meanwhile the frustrated troops resort to shooting the dogs that devour the dead bodies. But they are the only ones standing between the frenzied mass of extremists and the defenseless Tutsis who have flocked inside for protection.
The heart of the film is the story of the new teacher Joe Connor (Hugh Dancy "Ella Enchanted"), a fun-loving, idealistic, young Brit who has decided to teach in Rwanda based on a desire to give something back, a sentiment he bashfully shares with Rachel, a jaded television journalist played by Nicola Walker ("Thunderbirds"). When the school becomes a sanctuary for Tutsis fleeing the machete-wielding marauders, Joe leaves the UN secured compound in hopes of retrieving Rachel and her cameraman. Innocently, believing that the slaughter will end if the world is shown images of murdered Africans. Rachel doesn't believe it for a minute, but like Joe, Father Christopher (Jon Hurt 'Alien") also trusts the U.N. will intervene as soon as it learns of the atrocities. But when no one comes to their aid, Father Christopher and Joe must decide what they can do. Will they save themselves by boarding the French Legion trucks that arrive to evacuate Europeans as well as Delon’s U.N. force? The fate of those who stay behind is a barbaric death, so unfathomably horrific that a Tutsi community leader, Roland (Steve Toussaint "The Order"), begs the departing Delon for a final act of mercy and order his men to fire upon the Tutsis in the compound. Execution would be infinitely better, he pleads, than what might happen to them. In the backdrop of this surreal exchange, we see soldiers helping the white foreigners onto the convoys while holding back the desperate Rwandans.
The message of this tense, harrowing movie directed by Michael Caton-Jones ("Rob Roy") is clear and as frightening as any horror movie. Shot on location where the actual events took place it shows once more how a white person’s life is more valuable than that of any black African. That's why when we watch this incredibly important and moving film we can only feel guilt and sorrow.