6.8/10
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Paradise Road (1997)

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A group of women who are imprisoned on the island of Sumatra by the Japanese during World War II use music as relieve their misery.

Director:

Bruce Beresford

Writers:

David Giles (story), Martin Meader (story) | 2 more credits »
1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Glenn Close ... Adrienne Pargiter
Frances McDormand ... Dr. Verstak
Pauline Collins ... Margaret Drummond
Cate Blanchett ... Susan Macarthy
Jennifer Ehle ... Rosemary Leighton-Jones
Julianna Margulies ... Topsy Merritt
Wendy Hughes ... Mrs. Dickson
Johanna ter Steege ... Sister Wilhelminia (as Johanna Ter Steege)
Elizabeth Spriggs ... Mrs. Roberts
Pamela Rabe ... Mrs. Tippler
Clyde Kusatsu ... The Snake
Stan Egi ... Captain Tanaka
David Chung ... The Interpreter
Sab Shimono ... Colonel Hirota
Penne Hackforth-Jones Penne Hackforth-Jones ... Mrs. Pike
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Storyline

The group of women from different countries and social levels are prisoners in a Japanese POW camp, where one of them, Adrienne, who is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, organizes a vocal band in spite of their guards resistance. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for prisoner of war brutality and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Australia | USA

Language:

English | Japanese | Dutch | Malay

Release Date:

11 April 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Estrada do Paraíso See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$62,518, 13 April 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,921,471, 1 June 1997

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$960,000, 9 November 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film refers to the singing prisoner of war women as a vocal orchestra rather than as a choir. See more »

Goofs

Given that each of the women wore a single dress, day in and day out, in a tropical climate for three years straight, the fabric of their clothing would have disintegrated long before that was finally depicted in the film. Also, there's no way that the nuns would have been able to keep the white elements of their habits white, especially given the scarcity of soap. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Title Card: Allied soldiers did not arrive in Belalau, the most remote internment camp in Sumatra, for a further two weeks. The women and children were taken to Singapore and Jakarta for medical treatment. They then returned to their homelands. The vocal orchestra performed over thirty works in 1943 and 1944. It ceased when half its members died, and the remainder were too weak to continue.
Title Card: The music in this film was performed from the original scores, which survived the war. Lifelong ...
See more »

Connections

References Playing for Time (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Country Gardens
by Percy Grainger
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A heartfelt, underrated work of art with some magnificent performances.
12 January 2002 | by Jen_UKSee all my reviews

Why didn't more people see this film? This is what makes it great:

As an ensemble piece it works wonderfully - the cast are truly magnificent. Glenn Close is fabulous as the 'central' character and most well known 'star', but she does not monopolise all the scenes and screen time. She blends in with what is a wonderful cast, and does so impeccably. Why she hasn't been given more kudos as an actress is beyond me - she is stunning.

The film worked perfectly because of what comes across as a genuine rapport between the female cast. Each actress brings a different element to the story - Jennifer Ehle is strong willed and beautiful, Julianna Marguilles fiesty and dominant, Pauline Collins has such a human quality which she conveys to perfection, Cate Blanchett portrays wonderfully a quiet woman with a rebellious side. All compliment and balance each other. The actresses succeed admirably in bringing to the fore the bond that grew between their real life inspirations for this story.

The direction is precise and the cinematogrpahy beautiful. Despite the bleak context, Japan still looks vibrant and colourful, full of life.

The score. I can't do justice to the score in words - the vocal orchestra formed by the women is just beautiful and poignant to listen to and really does need to be heard to be understood. Somehow the actresses manage to make the music symbolise their humanity and spirit. It works wonderfully.

Overall, this is a heartfelt film with a profound message of hope which runs all the way through it. 'Paradise Road' is one of those rare films which reminds you of the indestructible nature of the human spirit. I wish there were more films like this one, and I wish more people had have seen this film. In a word it's a gem.


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