WWII Movie’s Message: Forgiveness Overcomes Bitterness

Post a Comment » Written on December 3rd, 2002     
Filed under: News
By Craig Pinley

CULVER CITY, CA (December 3, 2002) – The Jack Hafer-produced World War II movie To End All Wars has already won awards from film festivals and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

However, the critical acclaim from one man was reward enough.

Hafer had hoped that To End All Wars would present an accurate account of the story written by British soldier Ernest Gordon, Through the Valley of the Kwai, which described Gordon’s imprisonment in a Burma Prisoner of War (POW) camp after being captured by Japanese soldiers.

Gordon, who was Dean of the Chapel at Princeton University in New Jersey for 26 years, viewed the 117-minute R-rated film about a year ago. His reaction at the end of screening was short and sweet: “Jack, you’ve captured the heart of it.”

Beginning Friday and continuing through December 12, To End All Wars will be shown at Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood, California, as part of an exclusive engagement. Hafer, who lives in southern California and attended Rolling Hills Covenant Church in Rolling Hills Estates for a time, hopes his film can affect others in a manner similar to the way Gordon’s story has had an impact on his own life.

“This film was made for the filmgoer who appreciates important films, but who may not have thought about life from this viewpoint,” Hafer said. “When I’d originally read the book on which the film was based, it greatly impacted my life – which is why I wanted to tell this story.

“It is more than just a story of forgiveness,” continued Hafer, who has been in the film business since 1987. “It includes forgiveness, but it also challenges our own selfish lifestyles, the reason we’re living, what keeps us going each day when life isn’t working, how we can rise above our circumstances. The making of the film affected my spiritual life very strongly.”

To End All Wars is based in Burma and documents a timeframe during which captured Allied soldiers in World War II were forced to build a railroad through a vast jungle while being badly mistreated. This endeavor was in part the basis of David Lean’s Oscar-winning 1957 film Bridge Over the River Kwai, although Hafer and company approach the events quite differently.

In Hafer’s film, Gordon and others decide to try to better their lives during their harrowing experience as prisoners of war, starting a “colleg e of liberal arts” and a “church without walls” as ways to uplift the spirits of the camp. In the process, they overcome bitterness with forgiveness and overcome unlivable conditions with an indomitable inner strength.

There is no mention of Jesus Christ in the movie, said Hafer, who heads up Gummshoe Productions, an independent company in Manhattan Beach, after serving as vice president and general manager of GMT Studios in nearby Culver City. However, said one Covenant pastor at a screening last spring, “the story of how Gordon and others transform their world is Christ like.” The pastor called it a “best film to take an unbelieving friend to.”

To End All Wars was an act of faith, according to Hafer. It was difficult for Hafer and his independent film group to secure the funds to pay crewmembers and actors (a cast that included Kiefer Sutherland). However, the bills got paid and Hafer was able to witness the reunion of Gordon and a soldier at one of the Japanese POW camps.

Gordon died this past January, but his story lives on in a film that movie critic Michael Medved describes as “a project that courageously refuses to trivialize the events it portrays with phony lyricism or cheap, reassuring uplift.” Hafer knows it was just the way Gordon would have wanted it, which is good enough for him.

“The message of this film has made all of the hard work worth it,” he said.

For more information about the film and about Hafer and others involved in the production, visit the movie website at www.toendallwars.com. For more information about the upcoming showing in Hollywood, call 323-464-1478.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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