End of the Spear
In the old Hollywood jungle movies, the white hunters in their pith helmets would enter the deep dark forest, and the primitive tribesmen who captured them and spoke ooga-booga…well, they were natives, and that was all that needed to be said about them. (The 1933 King Kong participated in this racist cosmology, and there’s no denying that’s an element of its primal power.) End of the Spear is more superficially enlightened: It’s an ooga-booga movie dressed in ”anthropological” empathy.
As we follow five American missionaries, who look about as ready for adventure as the Kingston Trio, into the Amazon jungles of Ecuador in 1953, we also see life from the point of view of the Waodani, a violent tribe whose homicide rate has brought them to the verge of extinction. End of the Spear never quite shakes free of presenting the Waodani as the mysterious other — barbarians waiting to be civilized. The missionaries don’t hang around long enough to do it, but the movie, which is atrociously scripted and edited, carries out the mission for them, turning Mincayani (Louie Leonardo), a surly and handsome Waodani leader, from killer to saint without making psychological sense of either.