A hard-to-get-to, but must-see film is To End All Wars starring 24's Golden Globe winner, Kiefer Sutherland (aka Jack Bauer), Robert Carlyle and Ciaran McMenamin as WWII POW survivor, Ernest Gordon. This motion picture, presented by Argyll Films Partners, is a cross between Mel Gibson's The Passion and Band of Brothers.
This powerful movie is based on a true story by Prisoner of War survivor, Ernest Gordon (author of Miracle On the River Kwai.) It is about four Allied POWs in Thailand, who endure brutal, inhumane treatment at the hands of their Japanese captors during World War II. While being forced to build a railroad through the Burmese jungle, and trying to survive the living Hell of their POW camp, ultimately they find true freedom. Their freedom comes prior to their release from prison, by witnessing sacrifices made by their fellow soldiers, and by learning to forgive their internal rivals, as well as their brutal captors.
Construction of the railroad, which became famous in the film "The Bridge on the River Kwai," was initiated in 1942 to provide a rail link between Thailand and Burma for logistical troop support.
Over 100,000 POWs and 200,000 Asian slave laborers were forced to build the railroad fifteen months ahead of schedule. Between 45,000 and 100,000 POW workers died from exhaustion or from harsh treatment by the Japanese military.
To End All Wars is the story of Lieutenant Colonel Stuart McLean, Major Ian Campbell, 24 year-old, Captain Ernest Gordon and Lieutenant Tom Rigden.
Surrounded by the degradation of inhumane treatment, unrelenting labor, inadequate food and ever-present disease for three years, their biggest battle is between good and evil among fellow prisoners in the camp, and seeing themselves in their enemy.
In a recent sermon at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, John Ortberg referred to this very story. He said:
This is an amazing story. They formed what they called “The Jungle University.” And they started teaching courses in History and Philosophy and Science in nine languages, including Latin, Greek, Russian or Sanskrit. They created an alternative culture to the culture of death. Jesus had a name for that culture:
The Kingdom of God.
In the movie, the Kingdom of God is led by the example of British POW Dusty Miller, played by Mark Strong.
Miller's inspiration leads Ernest to become the teacher he had always dreamed of becoming. Within the camp he creates both a college of liberal arts and a "church without walls."
Hope prevails as the prisoners learn from each other, care for each other and as they learn to forgive those who forsake them.
With hope came a will to live. With a will to live many of these soldiers survived the death of war. With the death of war came a faith greater than their physical life here on earth.
Kiefer Sutherland, Ciaran McMenamin, Mark Strong, Robert Carlyle, James Cosmo, Takashi Nagase, Yogu Saso, Masayuki Yui, Sakae Kimura and John Gregg as Dr. Coates, together with Pray for Rain, Director & Producer, David Cunningham, deliver a message that digs down into the depths of our souls. It is a message that speaks to the power of both love and forgiveness.
Los Angeles Times' Reporter, Kevin Thomas called the film "More grueling than rewarding." Perhaps that was before he saw The Passion.
New Times said, "There's so much cynical and calculated religion these days that it's nice to see, regardless of one's wartime affiliation, a traditional Christian forgiveness that really does have the power to redeem."
One bit of production lore has it that when Kiefer Sutherland started the film he bore a tatoo on his left arm with the word "revenge" emblazoned across his deltoid. After filming To End All Wars, he (and a few others) went out and tatooed "mercy" on the other arm.
One of the gentle giants in the film was Takashi Nakase, a Cambridge-educated soldier, who became an English intrepreter for the Japanese military police.
Since the end of World War II, Takashi Nagase's life has been devoted to making up for the Japanese army's treatment of prisoners of war. Takashi, now 83, has made more than 100 missions of atonement to the River Kwai.
Ernest Gordon, pre-WWII (1916-2002)
Likewise, until his death in January 2002, Gordon found refuge feeding the souls of people living in their own personal wars. He became Dean of the Chapel at Princeton University, a position he maintained for 26 years.
To End All Wars is so good that, if you are anywhere in Northern California, Colorado or Texas, you should should make a special trip to see it.
Last night, we went out to Pleasant Hill to watch the film. Also in the crowd was Michael Pounds, Executive Director of CityTeam Ministries in Oakland and a group of guys Mike has embraced as part of his ministry.
City Team Ministries Resident with Director, Mike Pounds
Afterwards Michael said, "The movie touched me deeply because my deceased minister Dad, a WWII Vet who was in the Battle of the Bulge, forgave the Japanese, but my Dad's only living brother, a very proud and influencial WWII Vet, never has. I saw forgiveness versus hatred worked out in their lives." He added, "Also, I was touched because our CityTeam Oakland resident men who attended the movie, like me, felt that if those WWII soldiers in the internment camps could forgive after all each suffered, so could we forgive our enemies and those who treat us badly!"
Tim Fredel put it not only in the Top Ten of all wars movies he has seen, he said "This movie may be in my Top Ten of All Movies list. It is a powerful message that every adult should hear."
To End All Wars is playing for only one more night in Pleasant Hill, California (7:45 pm and 10:30 pm tonight) before it goes on to Colorado Springs (May 7 - 13).
It will also get a theatrical run in Irving, Texas (May 5 - 14) before Fox Home Video picks up the exclusive domestic DVD distribution beginning June 15 - just in time for Father's Day (June 20th).
Here are the three theatres to see the film:
Century 16 Downtown Pleasant Hill
125 Crescent Drive
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
May 6 - 5 pm, 7:45 pm and 10:30 pm
Carmike Chapel Hills 15
1710 Briargate Blvd.
Colorado Springs, CO 80929
Showing May 7 - May 13
Marquee Cinemas Macarthur Marketplace Stadium
8505 Walton Blvd.
Irving, TX 75063
Showing May 14 - May 20
Playtime: 2 hours 6 minutes
The movie is R-rated for its war-time violence and language. It's definitely not appropriate for younger children, but it may on the borderline for mature teenagers.
If you are not in California, Colorado and Texas, we encourage you to consider reading Gordon's book, To End All Wars as a precursor to purchasing the DVD.
The movie was financed in part by Scott Walchek and Greg Newman of Integrity Partners, two friends and investors in our previous company.
Scott said, "The distribution story is a long one and not unlike Mel Gibson's difficulty with The Passion of the Christ ... the difference for us was that we spent our corpus on the production and could not afford to personally bank-roll the distribution. Each screening costs $10,000 - $15,000."
Just as churches around the globe have aided in the distribution of The Passion we believe the world should see To End All Wars.
To learn about the making of the movie and the people who made it possible go to, please go to: ToEndAllWarsMovie.com
Other Articles & Sermons Related To This Story:
The Honolulu Advertiser, WWII Film Explores Forgiveness
MPPC, The Power of a Difference Maker, 04/18/04
P.S. One of the unexpected results of Sutherland joining the cast of To End All Wars, he gained a son-in-law. This week, his daughter Michelle Kath, from his first wife Camelia, married fellow screen star Adam Sinclair, 27, in Edinburgh, Scotland, after Sutherland met Sinclair on the set of To End All Wars.
At his daughter's wedding, Sutherland donned a Douglas tartan kilt in honor of his grandparent's Glasgow roots. From Scotland, Sutherland will head back to the states to finish another series of 24, before flying to New Zealand to work on a film with Morvern Callar star Samantha Morton.
Inspire & Be Inspired.