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Paradise Road (1997)

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Fact-based recounting of a group of women who are imprisoned on the island of Sumatra by the Japanese during World War II and used music as a relief to their misery.



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1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Adrienne Pargiter
... Dr. Verstak
... Margaret Drummond
... Susan Macarthy
... Rosemary Leighton-Jones
... Topsy Merritt
... Mrs. Dickson
... Sister Wilhelminia (as Johanna Ter Steege)
... Mrs. Roberts
... Mrs. Tippler
... The Snake
... Captain Tanaka
... The Interpreter
... Colonel Hirota
Penne Hackforth-Jones ... Mrs. Pike


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


Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:






| | |

Release Date:

11 April 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Estrada do Paraíso  »


Box Office


$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

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Technical Specs


| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This P.O.W film centers women prisoners as its principal cast and subjects with a theme of utilizing music to survive the horrors of war. However, it's not the first film to do this. Playing for Time (1980) examined similar themes. See more »


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 »


Mrs. Tippler: You don't give a damn about us, this whole camp!
See more »


References Silent Cries (1993) See more »


Cello Concerto in E Minor, Opus 65
Written by Edward Elgar (as Edgar Elgar)
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User Reviews

Reduced Shakespeare Company does Tenko
18 May 2003 | by See all my reviews

'Paradise Road' is not the first time the story of European and Australian prisoners of the Japanese during WW2 has been told - there is a famous old movie of Neville Shute's 'A Town Like Alice' and the BBC's wonderful tv series, 'Tenko', from the early 1980s. Nevertheless there is certainly scope for this film, which tells the story of a group of largely upper class women who have to come to terms with captivity and brutality as a 'defeated race' and somehow survive the war. The particular twist to this film is the fact-based story of the choir a group of women started in one camp. In other ways, however, the story is practically identical to 'Tenko', only crammed into around 2 hours instead of 30. This means that the effect is very much like watching one of those Reduced Shakespeare Company shows that do the Complete Works of Shakespeare in one performance. Virtually nothing happens in Paradise Road that doesn't happen in Tenko - fair enough, since it is fact based, but you feel like you're watching whole episodes crammed into a single line and you find yourself desperate for more character development - you never find out, for example, who Glenn Close's character really _is_. Despite this, the acting is top-hole and the script-writing is quite sparky, while production values are for the most part extremely high - this is a very good looking film. And therein lies a problem. While the violence is not sanitised, the starvation is. The women in this film appear to have suffered no more ill effects after 3 years of captivity and hard labour than a healthy sun tan and fetching urchin-style crop. The fight-in-the-shower scene shows us an array of perfect bodies with no sores, sunburn, bruises, skin diseases etc. (Again, Tenko did this much better.) When some of the women are meant to be dying of starvation towards the end the idea that these healthy women are meant to be suffering is so laughable as to be more like amateur dramatics than professional movie making. In failing to give a sense of the struggle to survive that the real women went through, this film diminishes their courage and does not do them justice.

This film is watchable, however, and tells stories that need to be told. Watch it by all means - but 'Tenko' is now out on video, so get that next!

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