I’m still not quite sure how this movie flew under my personal radar for the last 10-years. I saw it become available on Netflix and read the quick description:
Inspired by real-life events, this drama explores the experiences of Capt. Ernest Gordon and other Japanese prisoners of war enlisted to build the Railroad of Death. As the men struggle to maintain their sanity and will, they begin to drift apart.
Reading the short-description and seeing that Kiefer Sutherland was one of the main actors it was a no-brainer and I added it to my instant-queue.
It wasn’t until just this past weekend that I was having a conversation with some pastor-peers of mine that the movie title came up and two of them gave instant-recommendations that this movie was a must-see.
I found time late Sunday evening to watch it with my father-in-law.
After watching, I had a few reactionary questions:
1. How did I not know about this film until now?
2. How ‘true’ is this story?
3. How can I help spread the word about this powerful movie.
I cannot truly answer #1 yet. My father-in-law suggested that maybe it was released shortly after 9/11 and that we probably weren’t interested in movie-releases at that time, but we dug a little and found it released more than a year after September 11th, 2001 in December 2002.
Question #2 should be answered within the next week-or-so. I ordered the book within a half-hour of finishing watching the movie. It’s written by Ernest Gordon – the movie’s main character, narrator voice, and real-life survivor of the “Railroad of Death” build during WWII. After the war he became the Presbyterian dean of chapel of Princeton University. The book’s initial release was under the title, “Through the Valley of the Kwai” but has since been re-released by Zondervan under the same title as the movie – “To End All Wars“.
I look forward to reading through it as soon as possible.
Question #3 is answered, partially by putting up this movie review on my blog and hoping to spread the word and get others to do the same! In the words of my father-in-law, “The only hope is that this movie would spread virally.” I couldn’t agree more and I hope that everyone who sees this movie because of my recommendation would do everything they can to continue to spread the word about this terrific film!
What strikes me most about this movie is its story of forgiveness and grace. It may be the first-time I have seen John 15:13 lived out, explained, and reacted to on-screen in such a spectacular fashion.
Digging deeper for information about the movie revealed that it’s director, David Cunningham is the son of Loren and Darlene Cunningham, founders of Youth With A Mission – an interdenominational Christian organization serving in over 100 countries.
The trailer for the Director’s Cut of the film: