Human Studies Film Archives

Guide to Through the Gates of Splendor, circa 1960


Collection ID:
Saint, Nathaniel, 1923-1956
Elliot, Elisabeth
circa 1960
Physical Description:
Film reels
37 minutes
color sound

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents
Edited film documenting ill-fated 1956 missionary expedition to the country of the Aucas, an Amazonian tribe located near the border of Peru and Ecuador. Five men were killed by the Aucas after attempting to make friendly contact. The film is narrated by Betty Elliott, wife of one of the unfortunate men, and is based on her books "Through Gates of Splendor" and "The Savage My Kinsman". In 1958, Elliott established friendly contact with the Aucas and began missionary work there with another of the widows. Film includes footage of travel scenes in Quito, a journey to missionary base camp and life at the base camp; arial shots of Auca territory and the Auca camp, footage of initial contact with Aucas, as well as scenes of Elliott in Auca camp, and scenes of Elliott's young daughter playing with Auca children.
Legacy Keywords: Children American Indian Peru Ecuador ; Culture contact Peru Ecuador ; Settlements missionary religious Peru Ecuador ; Settlements Auca Quechua Peru Ecuador ; Urban life Quito Peru Ecuador
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or Anthropology Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.


Immediate Source of Acquisition
Received from the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute in 1994.

Using the Collection

Conditions Governing Use
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research. Please contact the archives for information on availability of access copies of audiovisual recordings. Original audiovisual material in the Human Studies Film Archives may not be played.
Preferred Citation
Through the Gates of Splendor
, Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution

More Information

Local Number

Local Number


Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
South America Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Peru Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ecuador Geographic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ssabella Indians | Ssabela | Sabela | Huaorani | Wao Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Missionaries Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound films Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Human Studies Film Archives
Museum Support Center
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