An art director in the 1930's falls in love and attempts to make a young woman an actress despite Hollywood who wants nothing to do with her because of her problems with an estranged man and her alcoholic father.
Garvey is a San Francisco pawnshop operator. His unemployed and criminal friends Dillard, Turtle, and Weslake, team up with Boardwalk, a local pimp, to burgle Garvey's shop while the owner ... See full summary »
Dr Calgary returns home from an expedition and goes looking for a hitchhiker whom he gave a lift to two years previously in order to return the man's address book. He discovers the man has been executed for his mother's murder.
This biographical film, based on the life of French artist Paul Gauguin (Donald Sutherland), follows the painter as he returns to Paris after a long stay in Tahiti and must confront his ... See full summary »
Max von Sydow,
A mysterious criminal rolls into a small town planning to knock off the local bank, assuming it will go off without a hitch. But when he encounters a retired poetry professor, his plans ... See full summary »
Larry Mullen Jr.,
A businessman (Donald Sutherland) has a hotshot young new partner (William McNamara). What he doesn't realise is that his new partner is the son of his second wife, adopted into an abusive ... See full summary »
Lesley Ann Warren
Bethune has long been a hero in China. Perhaps for reasons of politics and personality, however, his fame in North America lagged far behind. The film explores the complexity of a character... See full summary »
Major Ben Wheeler was a Canadian doctor assigned to Singapore when the Japanese forced an unconditional surrender of the British and took him prisoner in 1942. He was taken to the notorious Kinkaseki Japanese POW mining camp in Formosa (Taiwan) and given the task of maintaining the mental and physical health of the British POWs. Wheeler kept detailed diaries of his experiences during his three and a half years at the camp and excerpts are narrated with dramatized scenes of the traumatic experiences of daily life. The working conditions in the mines caused innumerable injuries, and disease and malnutrition were rampant, but Wheeler had to make do with very few medical supplies and equipment. Also featured is newsreel footage of related events, archival footage of the camp, interviews with fellow survivors of the camp who unanimously praised Wheeler for his good work and provide their perspectives on the events described by him, and finally snippets of Wheeler's family life back home in... Written by
As a kid working my way through the Ontario school system in the 1970's, productions from the National Film Board of Canada (especially in history classes) were a regular part of the curriculum, and, like most kids at that age, I probably sat through most of them bored to tears. I haven't seen an NFB production in quite a while when I suddenly saw this one pop up on TV and decided I'd watch it. Major Ben Wheeler was a Canadian doctor serving in Singapore when the Japanese captured him in 1942. The movie recounts, through the pages of his diary, his experiences as a POW, and it's both very sobering and very powerful.
What I particularly liked was the way four different kinds of productions were put together to create an essentially seamless story. Wheeler's diary (narrated by Donald Sutherland) was accompanied with dramatized scenes of life in the camp. The story of the camp was supplemented by what I call "talking head" segments - interviews with survivors of the camp - and with what I have to assume (based on the obvious level of the starvation of the POWs) was actual archival footage of the camps. Then, interspersed with all that were snippets of Wheeler's life and family back home in Canada (both before and after the war) in segments narrated by his daughter Ann, who was also co-producer, director and writer. It was very well done and offered a sobering view of life in the Japanese POW camps. One thing I appreciated was at least an attempt to look at the harsh, inhuman treatment of the POWs from the Japanese perspective. It was pointed out near the beginning that, in the Japanese culture of that day, a Japanese soldier would kill himself before being taken prisoner, and so they tended to look at soldiers who allowed themselves to be taken prisoner as less than human. Then, at the end, it was noted that many of the Japanese guards at the camp did, in fact, commit suicide rather than become prisoners as the Americans arrived to liberate the camps. I'm certainly not trying to justify the treatment of POWs by the Japanese, but certainly it does have to be seen from the perspective of that culture to be fully understood, and that's often a perspective we fail to see.
There were a lot of "talking head" segments - which I'm not really enamoured of - but I still thought this was very well done. 8/10
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?