Can the unforgivable be forgiven? What is the right attitude towards perpetrators and collaborators of crimes of war, genocide and torture? Does time really heal? Is revenge the right answer? Is forgiveness possible and who has the right to forgive? Such questions are often asked in the war and especially Holocaust literature and cinema. Answers differ, as they do in real life and history. , the strong dramatic film inspired by the true characters and life stories of Eric Lomax and Takesi Nagase, asks and tries to provide an answer in the historical context of the killing prisoner camps of British prisoners in Japanese occupied Indochina during WWII.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2058107

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2058107

 

For many of the survivors of genocides or atrocities the wars that inflicted their sufferance never end. This was for many decades the case of Eric Lomax (acted as a young man by and by at his maturity). He surrounds himself with a wall of silence and has difficulties to adapt to life after the war. The late story of love in his life (the second marriage in his real biography) imposes on him the duty to come to terms – one way or another – with his past. He has a chance that his fellows (like officer Finlay acted by ) would not have. This means meeting face to face his torturer and traveling back to the infamous Kwai river area where the allied prisoners who fell in the hands of the Japanese were held during the war. This type of prisoner – guardian (or torturer) encounter many years later can also be seen in various war and Holocaust books films. Eventually – and this also happened in real life in this case – reconciliation and forgiveness prevail over enmity and revenge, with the former enemies having the chance to look one into the eyes of the other. The balance between honor and dignity in time of war switches, as the guilt turns into remorse, and revenge into forgiveness.

 

(video source LionsgateFilmsUK)

 

The auto-biographical book written by Eric Lomax was turned by the script in a dramatic and romantic story which succeeds to be true to the essence while omitting some of the details of the story (for example Eric’s first marriage).  achieves one of the best performances in his career, with very good support from and . Director  does a fine efficient job in telling the story in a fluent manner, with discretion and avoiding useless effects. The flashbacks from the war times are very well filmed and the period rendered in a very credible manner. Conflicts between nations include a myriad of personal conflicts and stories of lives broken by wars. Peace and reconciliation between nations can become true and lasting only when most of the suffering is overcome. This film describes one possible story. We may agree or not with the path taken by the heroes,  but we need to acknowledge and respect the dignified way it is being told and made public – including in this movie.