Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Railway Man

This morning I saw The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.

Eric Lomax (Firth) was a British soldier during World War II, taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese. In an effort to learn what was going on in the outside world, he and his fellow soldiers successfully built a radio, but the discovery of that invention caused him to be severely tortured.

Lomax survived the war, but never forgot his hatred and disgust for one of his main captors, Tekashi Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada). Nagase was an educated interpreter who Lomax felt should have shown mercy during the conflict, but instead displayed vicious cruelty.

In the 1980s, after a rocky career and numerous subsequent effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, Lomax met his second wife, Patti (Kidman). He shared his love of railways with her and their romance blossomed. Not long after their wedding, she realized how damaged he was.

Her love for him, and the support of the soldiers he survived with, led him to reunite with Nagase and ultimately forgive his actions. In fact, the two became close friends until Nagase's death just a few years ago.

The film, based on this true story, captures both the horrors of actual prison camps and the psychological pain that echoes decades later from the experience of violence.

Firth is his usual amazing self, exhibiting an aloof nature at first, then revealing his layers of agony for all to witness; Kidman gives her best performance in recent memory as the concerned and curious wife, desperate to bring peace to the love of her life.

It's a story that needed to be told, both to remember the errors of our combative past and to realize the power of healing through forgiveness.


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