Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Movie Review: To End All Wars

On Sunday we saw "To End All Wars", which I heartily recommend you see.

At first Marie was down because it was yet another war movie (I've been watching a fair few lately). But as the plot developed she put aside her plans to sleep through the film; it was getting too interesting.

Without giving too much away, it's about a group of Scotsmen (and one American, played by Kiefer Sutherland) captured during the fall of Singapore in 1942 and interned in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.

All of their preconceived ideas of how they will be treated as POWs under the Geneva and Haig conventions soon disappear, as they are forced to submit to the Bushido philosophy. This philosophy values honour above just about everything, and looked on non-Japanese races as barbaric, sub-human.

In the face of this attitude from their captors, the prisoners face a decision. Act out the expectations of the Japanese, or show them that they're different. A group of the prisoners decide to go the harder path - they submit willingly to the hard labour they're subjected to, they treat their captors with courtesy and genuine respect, and they are enabled to hold their own university, learning about that crucial subject that comes to mind in wartime: justice.

It's very easy for me to watch a film like this and passively approve of what these brave guys did, and frown on the selfishness and wild vengeance of characters like Sutherland's and the one played by Robert Carlyle. It would be another thing to live out these beliefs in real life - to have hope when there is no visible hope.

"For hope that is seen is no hope at all" - the Bible. True visionaries go against the grain. When the time and place is right, they give others hope when it's in shortest supply. Because the invisible vision is so big to them, they're willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. And this film - based on a true story - is about that kind of hope, that kind of sacrifice.


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