To End all Wars (2001)

 

 

Director:  David L. Cunningham.

Starring:   Robert Carlyle (Major Ian Campbell), Kiefer Sutherland (Lt. Jim Reardon), Ciarn McMenamin (Captain Ernest Gordon), Mark Strong (Dusty), Sakae Kimura (Ito), Masayuki Yui (Noguchi), James Cosmo (Lt. Col. Stewart McLean, CO), John Gregg (Dr. Coates), Shu Nakajima (Nagatomo), Yugo Saso (Takashi Nagase), Pip Torrens (Foxworth), Adam Sinclair (Jocko), Winton Nicholson (Duncan), Greg Ellis (Primrose), James McCarthy (Norman).

very good movie on Japanese prisoner of war camp in Thailand

 

 

This movie is based on the prisoner of war experience of Captain Ernest Gordon of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders of the 93rd Battalion.  The action begins on the coast of Thailand after the fall of Singapore. We follow a group of mostly Scottish troops (with one American, Lt. Reardon of the Merchant Marines) as they are first introduced to their new home: the Kanchanaburi Prisoner of War Camp.  They have to quickly adapt to the crazy world of the Japanese bushido code (the code of the samurai). 

The bushido code holds that to surrender is the worst thing a soldier can do; far better to kill themselves.  Those who do surrender are just so much worthless slime and deserve to be treated inhumanely.  Along with this code goes Japanese racism; the Japanese believed that the whites were an inferior race.  With this dangerous and inhuman mix of beliefs, it is no wonder that the Japanese were guilty of considerable war crimes. 

The new prisoners have to learn to bow and scrape to the Japanese and never look them in the eye.  Defiance is quickly punished by brutal beatings or worse, including possible death. 

Japan was preparing for an invasion of Indian and they needed a way to bring supplies to Indian from Thailand.  The prisoners were given the assignment of building the Burma-Thailand Railway, a distance of 420 km, in 18 months. The Japanese had plenty of labor for the railway so they were absolutely callous about whether the prisoners lived or died. 

Now, one would think that this kind of experience would make the Allied prisoners very enraged at the Japanese.  But Captain Ernest Gordon has a different approach.  He wants to educate the prisoners in Plato, Shakespeare and the Bible and to do this he sets up classes.  This, of course, brings down the wrath of the Japanese.

Will these men live to see the end of the war and their liberation?  Or will they die like so many of their comrades in the prisoner of war camp?   

Excellent movie, teaching important spiritual values, that one could only wish more people would follow. 

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

1942 (Feb. 17)  --  fall of Singapore. 

1942 (October 28)  -- work begins on the Burma-Thailand railway.

Tarsau Region --- 132 km built.

Hellfire Pass  --  148 km built.

The prisoners find out that they must finish the railway six months ahead of schedule. 

Three Pagoda Pass  -- 305 km. 

1943 (October 16)  --  the prisoners complete the railway. 

1945 (August 15)  --  Allied troops arrive to liberate the camp. 

 

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