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A War Story (1981)

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A Canadian doctor interned at a Japanese POW Camp during WWII must tend to his fellow British prisoners who are being worked to death in a mine.



(diary of) (as Dr. Ben Wheeler) ,
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Title: A War Story (1981)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Narrated by (voice)
David Edney ...
Ben Wheeler
Peter Seed (as Frank Turner)
Doug Kier ...
Medical Orderly
Doug Bagot ...
Medical Orderly
W. Forrest MacDonald ...
Prisoner of War
Brian Laird ...
Prisoner of War
Patrick McGuigan ...
Prisoner of War
Grant Carmichael ...
Prisoner of War
Dean Stoker ...
Prisoner of War
Bill Johnston ...
Prisoner of War
Alan Stebbings ...
Prisoner of War (as Allan Stebbings)
Keith Mullan ...
Prisoner of War
Gerry Whelpton ...
Prisoner of War
Philip Zyp ...
Prisoner of War


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 pr1mal_1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War





Release Date:

8 November 1981 (Canada)  »

Box Office


CAD 368,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

The producer wishes to acknowledge that archival footage and photographs from many different Far East prisoner of war camps were used to tell this story. See more »


Down the Mine
by Trumpeter Arthur Smith
See more »

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User Reviews

Gripping, haunting, memorable.
30 November 2000 | by (Montreal, Canada) – See all my reviews

Donald Sutherland narrates the story of POWs in the Pacific, held by the Japanese. Donald tells us of daily life, the working conditions, prisoners dying of disease and malnutrition every day.

The film is entirely in black & white and the most incredible part is that it seems to incorporate actual footage from that time with modern day actors. It's amazing because the actors are bone thin so I'm wondering if it's all film that the Japanese took, would actors starve themselves for a part? If anyone knows about this please let me know.

This is a depressing film, you will not feel very good after having watched it but you will feel a lot of compassion for what our soldiers went through in the camps. A must see.

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