Jesse Saint never knew his Grandpa Nate – he only knew, as anyone who read LIFE Magazine knew, that Nate had cared deeply for the Waodani Indians of Ecuador before he died a martyr at their hands. Jesse’s father, Steve, grew up with the tribe who killed his dad, and ultimately helped the Waodani end the cycle of spear-killing that had claimed Nate’s life and decimated the tribe’s own numbers. It was the kind of story that stained-glass windows are made out of – and Jesse Saint spent most of his life dodging the pressure to live up to that heroic image.
In The Grandfathers, award-winning director Jim Hanon (End of the Spear, Miss HIV) ventures into this remarkable true story from Jesse’s perspective, exploring the fear and the hope that accompanies a teenage boy stepping out of his father’s shadow and into his own light. Using film shot on-location deep in the Amazon jungle with visionary design and animation, this documentary follows Jesse as he builds his own uncommon life under the guidance of the men who killed the grandpa he never knew.
Viewed through a patchwork of family histories, Jesse’s misadventures in the jungle take on greater gravity as he sees the culture of the Waodani, who are now his second family, dying before his North American eyes. The notorious killers have become to Jesse his real grandfathers. And the farther he steps out of the Saint family story, the closer he comes to realizing there may be room for him in his father’s – and his grandfather’s – legacy after all.
This is a film which will touch the hearts of viewers everywhere. The grandson of Nate Saint meets his grandfather’s murderers in Ecuador from the Waodani tribe and eventually calls them “grandfather” as he forms a lasting bond with them. The gospel message which Nate Saint brought to them has been fully realized. The viewer will meet Mincaye, one of the killers who murdered Nate Saint with a spear, and will see how today he is a laughing man who loves life, God, talks about the Bible and who forms a close relationship with Jesse. He even visits Jesse’s home in the states.
Although some of the gruesome events of the killing are briefly mentioned, there is humor included in the DVD which rounds out this nicely produced documentary. When Mincaye flies on a plane for the first time, he tells Steve, Nate’s son, that people had fallen out of the plane. He saw a few of them walk through a door. We learn it is the bathroom door they entered!
We are recommending this amazing and soul-touching DVD for ages twelve plus, as there is a scene of a speared bird and talk of a woman who was speared and then decapitated along with her feet being removed from her body. We suggest parents consult our content listing below. But overall the content is mild and the message is unmistakably powerful. This is a documentary which needs to be seen as it reveals the changing power of God’s love through the gospels and his word. It is a quality DVD. We award this DVD five Doves, our highest rating.