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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, honor 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. Written by
I saw this movie when it came out more than 17 years ago. At the time a big deal was made about David Bowie being in it. He is, and does a fine job, but the movie isn't about his character. It is far more about the differences between East and West, and the cruelty of war. I was able to see it again last week on a cable channel.
To fully appreciate MCMR, try to understand the culture of both the captors and the prisoners at the time. To the prisoners, their existence in the camp is an unfortunate result of war, and should be temporary and not a life or death experience. To the Japanese captors, the prisoners who surrendered rather than died fighting are cowards, beneath the notice of the captors and likely not even viewed as human beings. They are expendable. But first, in this particular camp, there is an effort to "educate" the prisoners about the way a *true* warrior lives life (and dies). That is where the true conflict begins.
There are multiple physical and psychological struggles going on in MCMR. There is even some homoeroticism, though it isn't fully explained. There is certainly a lot of sadness, for characters on both sides. This point is brought home at the end, when the roles are reversed for two of the characters.
Even today, I can hum several parts of the score to MCMR, and they make me melancholy as I recall scenes from the movie. If you like movies that delve into the darker side of the human spirit (with some lightness thrown in), check out MCML. I rated it an 8.
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