The Railwayman

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I am not sure what the stats are, but I remember seeing them at some point and they are enough to send a shiver down your spine. The issue of suicide after war is not one that will go away and I believe it is on the increase in the U.S military. I write this after seeing The Railway man at the weekend, which dealt with life after war for one soldier who suffered horribly at the hands of the Japanese during ww 2. The events that took place became a small fraction of his life, but they took hold of him in a way meaning his life never really got going again until he was awoken by the love of a beautiful woman.

The suffering he went through and then bottled would explode onto the love of his life, proving that he needed to face this demon in order for his life to begin and eventually be happy again. It would be very easy to judge and label such a man’s behaviour not knowing what he had been through, but then how many could love enough to help him through. He was lucky enough to have such a woman who would not give up on him. Her understanding and love was unquestionable, making him face the nightmares, the thoughts of revenge and the complete isolation he felt. His friend, too, although suffering also put him first and gave him the ultimate signal that this man’s life had to change.

I really enjoyed the film. Colin Firth playing the well spoken Englishman, in which he has become famous. The look of complete emptiness across his face for a large part of the film must have proven to be a difficult task. There were few elements of joy in this film, but then given the subject it was hardly going to be a song and dance. The beautiful first meeting between Colins character and Nicoles was one of almost childlike happiness, like 2 children gazing into each others eyes with a great naivity, acting like a bright light beaming out to the audience.

Nicole played a middle age English wife with great subtlety and strength. It is hard to believe that there is an Australian accent hidden behind her performance. The sadness of her husband, which of course is then reflected onto her cheeks as the tears roll down her face show how it’s not just the individual that is affected. Nicoles character had to be the stronger of the two without being over the top. It was a great performance to achieve this.

The friend played by Stellen Skarsgard was also caught up in a great sadness, going through life keeping the secret of what had happened in Japan. This could almost be seen in his face as he resigned himself to unhappiness. There were again flickers of brightness shown in his admiration of his friend who was seen by all as a great hero. The friend gained strength to help Colins character even if he believed that his own life could not be changed.

The scenery perfectly represents how the character feels, often giving the viewer the feeling that this is shot in black and white due to the lack of colour. The vastness of the beach as Colins characters eyes pierce through you as if you are invisible feel like they represent his emotion. The dreary weather in a life where the sun only shines through the passion for trains is a clear depiction of how low this man is. I may well be reading too much into it, it may just be that this man lived precisely at this location although I hope it was used for the former. The contrast between the scenes in England is huge and despite the harshness and torture received in Japan, it almost seems that the worst of the torture was awaiting them on their return home.

The last part of the film is the journey back to Japan to face the nemesis that had caused the nightmares of the last 40 years. This one man was the focus of all the anger that had built up during the time after the war. Was this man evil? Was this man devoid of human emotion? How had this affected his life? This story is told at the very end and I won’t spoil it. I will say that the final part gives you a great insight into human emotion and sends a lasting message that should not be forgotten.

I give this 8/10 fine performances for a story which I hope will inspire and maybe help to put those little troubles into perspective.

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