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'R' for redemptive

Movies | It is too bad that To End All Wars came out before The Passion of the Christ

Issue: "Ronald Reagan: In memoriam," June 19, 2004

It is too bad that To End All Wars came out before The Passion of the Christ. Mel Gibson's movie broke through two barriers: getting an independently ­produced film widely distributed in the nation's movie theaters, and getting Christians to attend an R-rated movie.

The Passion was a high-quality, sophisticated work of art that held nothing back in its depiction of the Christian faith, to the point of being shocking. The same can be said of To End All Wars, but it did it first. After being shown sporadically in selected theaters, but without winning national distribution, To End All Wars is being released on video and DVD on June 15 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Finally, it will be widely available.

Christians, especially those for whom The Passion demonstrated the potential of film as a medium for the gospel, will want to see To End All Wars. It is the true story of Ernest Gordon, former chaplain of Princeton University, who as a young Scottish soldier was captured by the Japanese during World War II and interred in a brutal POW camp. In that hellish environment, he and his fellow prisoners faced major issues of faith, including what it means to love one's enemies and the magnitude of Christ's sacrificial death for sinners.

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A project of Jack Hafer, a Christian with wide experience in Hollywood, the film has a first-rate director in David Cunningham and an all-star cast, including Kiefer Sutherland, before he won the Golden Globe for his hit TV series 24.

The R rating comes from Passion-like violence, but, like The Passion, this is not the kind of violence that makes someone less sensitive to human suffering, as is the case with most Hollywood productions. The violence and suffering in To End All Wars is, like that of The Passion, redemptive, pointing to what Christ endured for human sin.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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