The Railway Man

I normally don’t wait too long before writing these “reviews” of movies in case my opinion is coloured by talking it over with other people. “Review” is a rather loose concept. I write exactly what I think. It doesn’t mean anything in the real world.

The Railway Man was a good film. Much like “12 Years A Slave” everyone should watch this. The brutality of the Japanese army and what they did to the slaves they used to build the railway through Thailand and Burma (Myanmar) is terrible. Everyone should understand how man can treat man if he is conditioned to do so [see Evil below].

Ultimately this film is not as much of a downer as “12 Years”. The theme running through the film is the terror of war and how people are affected by post traumatic stress disorder. BUT the ultimate theme of this film is forgiveness. This is surely man’s greatest asset. The ability to forgive, not to forget but to understand the terror of other times and then to forgive and allow peoples to work together to reconciliation. We are not different as human beings. Whichever part of the world you come from, whatever your religion (or none), whatever your abilities, whomever you support in sport and whatever the colour of your skin (and all the other different ways we segregate ourselves) we are the same. We are NOT different races. We have different cultures. We are raised differently. In the end, however, most of us would forgive and learn to live with our mistakes and work to correct future issues. Ultimately I believe that humans should and eventually will do good for each other.

To be good to each other we have to overcome inbuilt prejudices. We are tribal creatures and fiercely territorial. We want to be in gangs and to feel surrounded by people who think the same as us. We are animals who yearn for togetherness and knowingness of familiarity. To trust and like others we have to leave behind eons of evolution and hard-wiring in our brains. We have to constantly battle our thoughts and work to make sure that we can be the best we can and do good to others.

We would not fight and kill and maim each other if we could all sit around a camp fire and chat and make food for each other, become a single society. Religions, governments, sports teams, schools, villages, music, politics, practically all aspects of human behaviour involves us being in “like” groups” and forces us to “be on one side or the other”.

I repeat: We are all the same. We are not races.

Human beings need to get together and sit. Face to face. Talk. Consciously overcome the inbuilt prejudice and work together. Work together for the common good. To make the world a better place for the entire human race.

Look around the corporations and governments and see if you see that happening anywhere. I would be most surprised.

If we can learn to forgive and learn to listen to each other and help each other then we might have a chance on this little rock orbiting the Sun.

Hmm. That went a little left-field. Oh well.

After watching this film I read a comment on IMDB. The person said in the “trivia” section that the film uses the compressed time technique as in reality it took a couple of years between meeting and marrying. Apart from a few special films I think all films use compressed time. Does this commenter write this is all film trivia sections?

The film uses compressed time to speed up the story. Eric Lomax and Patti Wallace did meet in 1980, but in reality they didn’t marry until 1983. Eric didn’t learn that Takashi Nagase was still alive until 1993, and they finally met in 1995.

This should really be a longer communication by itself and maybe I will write one someday. For now I would like to say that I don’t like the media describing someone as “evil”. Considering the world is over seven billion humans there is plenty of scope for all manner of people. Most will fit into the constraints of society and some will not. Some people do terrible things because they don’t know any better, these people should be helped. Everybody else probably does terrible things because of greed or jealousy and many other reasons. These people are probably quite rational and know that what they are doing is wrong and so they should be punished within the bounds of what that society thinks is suitable. By society here I mean the laws of the land [as agreed by elected representatives] and not just what the victims think should happen, perhaps that is another communication to write: The problem of laws and society.

I am not claiming that this is a complete dichotomy. I am oversimplifying the issues to make a point. My basic view is that people either do bad things and know they shouldn’t or a smaller proportion of people do bad things and don’t know any better.

When people who commit terrible crimes are labelled as EVIL by the media it infers that these people are not rational. That these people have been inhabited by EVIL and it has been there since birth. EVIL is a religious term. EVIL means it’s ok to seek revenge in a terrible manner as there is nothing that can be done for that person. EVIL means we don’t have to examine the REASONS behind what that person did. We don’t have to look for excuses, we don’t have to seek rational arguments why they behaved that way, we can just accept that they are EVIL and should be treated as such. Labelling people as EVIL removes the responsibility to ask why and allows us to ignore reasons why.

This whole communication came from the Japanese doing terrible things to other people during the second world war. Should the wrong doing be punished? YES. Did some of the soldiers enjoy what they did? YES. Were many soldiers acting on orders and their society telling them to be brutal? YES.

Should we forgive and understand? Most Definitely.

Out of all this we must LEARN and REMEMBER what happened. We should aim to become better people. We should aim to do good for all.

Once again. We are ONE human race. We are the same.