19 November 2010
The film, set in 1944, follows Jack, a WWI veteran, whose lost hopes and values lead to isolation and an empty feeling that is too hard to shake. This solitude abruptly ends when he meets Masaru, an escaped Japanese POW. Suddenly Jack shows the first sign in many years of not giving in to death. Learning of a mass suicide breakout from the POW camp nearby, Jack and rifle march Masaru back to camp. None of this is new to Masaru, for him, death is constantly just around the corner. Both men understand that war is not a simple question of good versus evil but there are rules to which each man must act. Jack shows little compassion for Masaru and speaks freely about his thoughts on the Japanese. When pushed too far Masaru lashes back, revealing a will to fight and a fool in Jack. He can understand English. But it's not long before Jack finds solace in the fact that he is not alone. They are, after all, just two men in different uniforms talking to each other. Eventually a hint of compassion and sympathy flows between the two. Unknowingly they both portray a desire for hope. It must still exist in the world somewhere. The film is not about heroism. It's about the legacy of war through the eyes of the ordinary men who survive it. For Masaru the film ends in ineffable tragedy, and for Jack, life is once again completely altered.
- Written by