The Railway Man – An Unseen Recommendation.

While I’ve mentioned a number of films in the past, with brief recommendations for most, I’ve never done a single post dedicated to a film. Well, here’s the first, and it’s an odd first. I have yet to see this movie, but I recommend it wholeheartedly. Here’s why.

First, the name – “The Railway Man”. It is a story about a Brit who was a Japanese POW and worked on the Thai-Burma Railway. Some of you might have heard of this infamous route from the movie “Bridge on the River Kwai”. This tale, however, is a true one, the story of a man named Eric Lomax. This film not only covers his time as a prisoner, but also his later life as he seeks some resolution to his PTSD resulting from his captivity.

I recommend this for two reasons. Firstly, it tells a tale too often forgotten in World War Two history. The China-Burma-India Theatre, as the US referred to it, was a bitterly fought campaign between US and Commonwealth troops on one side, and the Japanese on the other. (Mr. Lomax is captured at the fall of Singapore shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.) Often referred to as the Forgotten War (years before the Korean War in 1950 would subsume that title), the tale of these men is frequently eclipsed by more famous battles such as Guadalcanal and Midway early in the war, and Iwo Jima and Okinawa later on. The film provides an insight into the people and the events of this neglected part of WW2.

I also recommend the film for its’ examination of one man’s battle with what we now know as PTSD. I have met a number of veterans who have born the memories of war with great difficulty, whether it be bad dreams, memories they would not speak of, or an inability to deal with everyday life. I can’t state exactly how the film resolves Mr. Lomax’s problems, but from the preliminary information I’ve read, it is both honest and sympathetic in both portrayal and resolution – perhaps a bit sugar-coated in the end, to ensure ticket sales, but such is the influence of Hollywood money.

Okay, now I hear you saying “But you haven’t seen the darn ting, how the heck can you recommend it?”. I have seen previews and read reviews, both of which can be slanted. I’ve seen interviews with the star, Colin Firth, a man for whose acting I have great respect. But in the end, I recommend this film for one simple reason. It takes the audience into areas that have rarely been explored previously. It has the courage to venture both into an unknown theatre of WW2, and into the equally-poorly explored areas of a person’s attempts to deal with the horror and trauma that comes from going to war. I can’t point out specific scenes as exemplary – yet – and I can’t specifically compare it to other films I’ve seen – again, yet. But I have tagged it in my own mind as a must-see. And whether it fully lives up to my expectations or not, I am sure I will watch it multiple times when it comes to one of the movie channels I get.

So go see “The Railway Man”. You may be moved, you may be delighted, you may be saddened, but I have a strong suspicion you will NOT soon forget it. And that is the highest praise anyone can give to this film.

The movie’s website: http://www.railwaymanmovie.co.uk/

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18 Responses to The Railway Man – An Unseen Recommendation.

  1. Elyse says:

    I will say that I will watch just about any movie with Colin Firth in it.

    That being said, this sounds like something that folks should see for all the reasons you mention.

    Happy Holidays, John.

  2. 1jaded1 says:

    This sounds like a moving story. I will take it under advisement. Hope you have a good holiday.

  3. aFrankAngle says:

    Thanks to you, I can no longer say I’ve never heard of this movie.

    • I saw an interview with Colin Firth on this morning’s BBC news. I really liked him in “The King’s Speech”, another historical film I would highly recommend. I then spent the morning reading up on “The Railway Man”, and was totally blown away. This could do for the Far East theatre what “Saving Private Ryan” (or at least its’ opening 30 minutes) did for the Normandy invasion. And helping educate folks that even “The Greatest Generation” had their problems with what we now know to be PTSD.
      By the by, if you have cable/satellite, check for a movie called “Joyeux Noel”. It’s a pretty darn good retelling of the 1914 Christmas Truce I wrote about last year, That’s a story everyone should know about, as well – a glimmer of peace and hope in what would become the bloodiest war (among soldiers) in recent history.

  4. fasab says:

    I have to say that that’s the best review of a movie from someone who hasn’t seen it that I’ve ever read! :) It’s done enough to make me want to see it and Firth is an excellent actor and no doubt turns in another great performance.

    • I usually don’t get too wound up about upcoming films. “Red Tails” was the last one that had me intrigued, and though there were some glaring technical errors, the story and the action worked pretty well. But after seeing the interview with Colin Firth, this one became a definite.
      And thank you for the review of my review! ;) (Yeah, only I could review a movie without seeing it first.)

  5. I’m with Elyse…Colin Firth is enough for me to see the movie. But I do think the subject and the period of history would be very interesting to both my husband and to me. Thank you for the suggestion. I haven’t heard a thing about it yet…I’ll be on the “look out.”

  6. I have never heard of this movie. Good to know. Will add it to the list of must-see movies. Grandfather was a Marine @ Iwo Jima. :)

    • Okay, now you’ve done it. You have GOT to share stories! :D Well, in all seriousness, it is your option to share. Through my years of study and re-enacting, I have always followed the maxim that memories belong to the vet, or to their offspring. You can share, or not, and you will NOT offend me. If you share, you’ll thrill me NO end, but if not, that’s cool, too. Don’t suppose you’ve got any forebears from the USAAF/USAF? Planes have always been my first military love. You might want to look back through my stuff, I did a post back on April 4 about a special WW2 B-24 bomber named “Lady Be Good”.
      And once again, thanks for stopping by!

      • Hmmmm…funny, my instincts already answered one of your comments. heh heh. As to the military air issue, if you ever have a post you can provide, I would be honored to post it. Father=USAF. Ex-husband=USAF fireman. Go figure. A shrink’s dream client. Did you know that as part of the USAF unwritten fireman’s code that the wife has to put out a real fire? Yes. True. They find an old barn somewhere, set it on fire, then the wives have to put it out. No joke. Currrent husband smart as hell and unscathed. Well…except he did marry me! eh…I guess time will tell!

      • That’s rather interesting, the spousal fire-fighting. Gives the wives a real good idea of the sheer manual effort required in fire-fighting (so they know what the “men folk” go through), as well as building a sort of ersatz “fire reserve” using the wives. Never heard that before – VERY interesting!
        Wow, finding time to post what I want on my OWN blog is tough, much less doing volunteer work for you! But I tell ya what – as I do things for my blog (and there’s gonna be a LOT of military anniversaries, 70th of 1944 and the centenary of WW1), I’ll see if maybe I can’t pitch one or two together. Or maybe split a long one between your blog and mine? Kinda devious – which I like! :D
        By the by, if things don’t work out with the house across our shared driveway, do they teach the fire fighters (or their wives) anything about limiting the forensic evidence at a fire? Just curious….. ;)
        Whoops, my water’s boiling – gotta go make tea. Back in a bit!

      • I know – you are working way too hard for me and my blog already. Ha. No worries. Hopefully, we’ll have 2014 to figure that out. There’s enough hot air in these parts to keep the ol’ blog moving along for at LEAST another year. :)

        Ah, yes. The forensic question. It reminds me of the latest on the NSA and some guy named Snowden…? :)

        Yes. On a very basic level. yes. But I sure couldn’t stand up to a Law & Order episode!! Especially in under an hour.

        Cheers, D

      • Well, see, being a Chicagoan, we’re not overly trained in matters relating to arso … um, I mean “accidental fires”. Now, if you want somebody to disappear (like forever), we’re the folk to see. We know all about the value of cement blocks as swimfins, and deodourising cat litter for land based bur … er, I mean “disposals”. (Just ask Frank – he’s seen how well I can dig! :D )
        I’m gonna have to split for the evening – furnaces to fuel, curtains and shades to close, all sorts of little niggly things. I’m sure I’ll run into you at some point tomorrow, so until then, have a great evening, and if I DO miss you, have a great New Year’s Eve and Day!

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