MV5BMjIwODkyNjc4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTMxNDU4Mw@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_Previously on Bride of the Screen God…..

A couple of years ago my great friend Silvery Dude challenged me to watch a series of films before I turned 51, films that I had never seen (though some of them I had always intended to watch but just hadn’t got around to yet) but he thought I should if I was going to call myself a film buff. There are 18 on the list and so far I have seen 5 including most recently Merry Christmas Mister Lawrence. I missed my original target date but still intend to complete the list. Eventually.

What does IMDb say about this film?

In 1942 British soldier Jack Celliers comes to a Japanese prison camp. The camp is run by Yonoi, who has a firm belief in discipline, honour and glory. In his view, the allied prisoners are cowards when they chose to surrender instead of committing suicide. One of the prisoners, interpreter John Lawrence, tries to explain the Japanese way of thinking, but is considered a traitor.

Why Silvery Dude thought I should watch this

Ok, so this appealed to me as a teenage boy, all David Bowie, David Sylvian….quite edgy and bit like waiting for Godot, nothing happens, a lot….

Perhaps doesn’t stack up through adult eyes……*hangs head in shame*

Can you tell he shared this after he found out what I thought? Which brings me to….

What I thought about the film

Oh dear.

So this film came out in 1983 and I distinctly remember not wanting to see it at the time, and to be honest I think my gut instinct was right; this is definitely not the film for me. I can see that it was influential, I can understand why people fell in love with the soundtrack, but I couldn’t engage with it at all, it left me entirely cold. I can’t decide how much of this is to do with the passage of time, as I found the film really dated, far too shouty and a bit clichéd in terms of its portrayal of the whole “damn this bloody war” POW thing (speaking as one whose Dad loved war films and so I have seen a fair few of them in my time).

I don’t mind the casting of David Bowie, although there are a couple of real arty-farty scenes which were mildly annoying, but I really didn’t like Ryuchi Sakamoto’s performance at all. Quite early on I came to the conclusion that he was a sulky teenager in eyeliner playing dress-up in a military uniform and although that may be unfair it was an impression I couldn’t shift. He does a good line in flouncing. I found the story rather disjointed and I still really don’t know what the thing between Sakamoto and Bowie was really about though I’m assuming a gay subtext is intended. The flashbacks to Bowie’s character’s childhood were interestingly done and obviously intended to help us understand him but…. well, let’s just say it didn’t work for me.

I did like Tom Conti’s performance very much (and not just because he comes from my home town) and the last scene was quite moving, but it all came a bit too late.

Silvery Dude and I may have had a frank exchange of views in an e-mail exchange just after I saw the film, it’s entirely possible that I was very rude about David Sylvian (the word “poser” may have been used) and I may have had a virtual stapler thrown at me, but we have agreed to disagree. Interestingly I think that our different reactions to the film may have something to do with (a) the age difference (I am almost *gulp* 7 years older than the silvery one) and (b) the fact he saw it as an impressionable teenager and I saw it as a hardened old girl, but as he said it would be boring if we all liked the same things.

FTWBI51This is my fifth film in my Films to Watch because personal challenge.