Beyond the Gates (2005)



Critic Consensus: Complex, human characters and on-location shooting give Beyond the Gates palpable tension and urgency.

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Two outsiders witness an onslaught of bloody Rwandan genocide in this fact-based drama from director Michael Caton-Jones (Scandal). In 1994, Joe Connor (Hugh Dancy) is a British schoolteacher who has volunteered to spend a year at the École Technique Officielle, a school in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. Connor's arrival in Rwanda occurs after the nation's Civil War between the Tutsis and the Hutus has dissipated (c. August 1993). Yet despite the official end of this well-publicized struggle, political negotiations between the two groups have reached a stalemate, and the Hutus begin systematic preparation for a mass-genocide of the Tutsi people (who have assumed political power via the establishment of the RPF). Connor has already seen signs of the coming conflict in the abuse meted out to Marie (Claire-Hope Ashitey), a Tutsi student who was one of his star pupils, as well as the bitter hatred expressed by François (David Gyasi), a Hutu janitor at the school. As the genocide erupts, with extreme Hutu factions slaughtering Tutsis by the thousands, the École Technique becomes a base of operations for Belgian peacekeeping forces from the United Nations. Most extended visitors from the West (especially America and Europe) flee Rwanda as the fighting breaks out, but Connor decides to stay, and in fact strikes up a friendship with Father Christopher (John Hurt), a Catholic priest who has come to the nation as a missionary. As Father Christopher serves mass and strives to offer solace to the Tutsis and moderate Hutus caught in the fighting, he and Connor use the school as a safe haven for Tutsi refugees; however, after five days of genocidal killing, the U.N. troops move out, leaving little hope for the people they were supposed to protect. Beyond the Gates was produced by David Belton, who helped write the film's story; Belton was a correspondent with the BBC who was assigned to Rwanda when the fighting broke out. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
R (for strong violence, disturbing images and language)
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John Hurt
as Christopher
Hugh Dancy
as Joe Connor
Dominique Horwitz
as Capitaine Charles Delon
Louis Mahoney
as Sibomana
Nicola Walker
as Rachel
David Gyasi
as Francois
Victor Power
as Julius
Musa Kasonka Jr.
as Bonfiace
Charles Kayondo
as Felicien
Abdul Sebagangali
as Rwandan Soldier
Molly Rutagarama
as Isabelle
Eugene Rugwiza
as Baptiste
Raymond Kalisa
as Rwandan Soldier
Rose-Mary Uwimana
as Frightened Woman
Venuste Karasira
as Economist
Denis Nsanzamahoro
as Road Block Militia
Jean De La Croix
as Road Block Militia
Ndabananiye Samuel Kyaganbidwa
as Road Block Militia
Joseph Saad
as Road Block Militia
Jean Kennedy Mazimpaka
as Road Block Victim
Jean Paul Nkundabanyanga
as Interahamwe Intruder
Alain Nizet
as French Commander
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Critic Reviews for Beyond the Gates

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (26)

This is a spiritual drama, not a political one, drawing a thick line between our good intentions and the selfish choices we ultimately make.

Full Review… | January 4, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Though less reassuring and not as dramatically coherent as Hotel Rwanda, it still packs a hard punch.

August 10, 2007
New York Times
Top Critic

Movies about Africa often fall into this trap. Righteous indignation is the exclusive province of non-Africans.

Full Review… | March 30, 2007
Boston Globe
Top Critic

There's little respite from the terrible history that this film retells just a determination (made stronger by the faces we see after the credits) to tell it, to be sure that history doesn't forget.

Full Review… | March 30, 2007
Seattle Times
Top Critic

A gripping fictionalized account of a 1994 incident in Rwanda that became a shocking emblem of the Rwandan Hutus' mass slaughter of the Tutsis.

March 29, 2007
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

By keeping most of the action contained to the school grounds and immediate environs, director Michael Caton-Jones creates a claustrophobic atmosphere where fear can fester.

Full Review… | March 23, 2007
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Beyond the Gates

Too self-serving, and supplies absolutely no insight into the vital question of why Hutu hatred for the Tutsis could have reached such a boiling point.

Hal Morris
Hal Morris

OUTSTANDING MOVIE!! Here's an amazing movie that depicts upon human tragedy that occurred in 1994 Rwanda. Highly touching story plot. Amazing performances by Hugh Dancy and John Hurt. Definitely a must-see.

Leo L
Leo L

Super Reviewer


Thematically similar to Hotel Rwanda this movie about the genocide of 1994 presents an equally hopeless situation as the angry mob gathers outside a school, (only temporarily) protected by UN soldiers, who refuse to do anything more than their mandate tells them. As the situation gets more and more dire, like a noose closing around someone's neck, John Hurt and Hugh Dancy have their moments to shine, just like the whole cast is really convincing. While some Christian analogies are maybe a little over the top, the movie is still extremely thrilling, frustrating and sad. Showing pictures of the crew members who lost someone in the genocide before the end credits basically makes it impossible not to be touched by this really powerful and important film, that would have deserved as much attention as Hotel Rwanda.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

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