I just finished one of the most inspiring biographies I have ever read. I picked up Ernest Gordon's true story of his experiences as a POW in a Japanese Internment camp during the building of the death railway in Thailand during WWII. What a story! It is the same circumstances that spawned "Bridge Over the River Kwai".
Originally entitled "Miracle in the Valley Kwai", the book is now sold under the title, "To End All Wars". The book is a master piece- Ernest Gordan writes his story with a warm humility and honest truth that is stark and troublesome at the same time. He tells a journey from skepticism to faith and shows how the Christian faith overcame the most severe of human conditions.
I will have many more posts on the book in later blogs.... it is now time to address the movie. I had my doubts that hollywood could tell the story as it is written. I rented the 2001 release that included Keifer Sutherland and made under the title "To End All Wars".
Positives: the movie did attempt to keep the themes of redemption and forgiveness. It did weave a storyline of endurance of good over evil.- But in the attempt to globalize the message- it lost all the power.
The directors had to do a few things to make the film more politically correct.
First, they had to elevate the Japanese. In the documentary included with the DVD- the director explains that he had to show a more sensitive side to the Japanese and tell their side. He had to do it to secure top, authentic Japanese talent- it would have to be sold to Japanese audiences, and I am sure has Japanese financing in the structure.
They did this by inventing a soft, warm Japanese guard who speaks english and sympathizes with the POWS. The book did have a Columbia trained guard in it- but Gordon mentioned his utter hatred of them. Gordon had no warm fuzzy about the Japanese at all in the book. He saw their religion and worldview as false. He saw their tactics as barbarian. His hardest step of faith was to follow Christ down a path of forgiveness... which he did slowly- but make no mistake, the Japs were true enemies.
The movie shows a real life meeting with Gordon and a Japanese captor that happened on the site. The movie tries to point out that Gordon became a Presbyterian minister and the Japanese man became a hindu priest- like they found two sides of the same coin. I will point out later that Gordon saw an infinite abyss between Christ and the other religions. It was only the real Jesus who addressed the atrocities of human suffering. The real Christ, the one who hung on the cross and suffered was the only one who causes Ernest to forsake skepticism and make reason be ruled by his savior and Lord.
The movie removed this Jesus and replaced Him with Plato. Yes, there was a school started at the concentration camp- but only after the real Jesus was discovered. It was Jesus who was the reformer, not Plato. The education was a gift from the Lord- but it was not the Lord. There was a resurgence of service and the arts at the camp- but it was a result of worship of the Creator. The movie elevated deed over Creed, which is our biggest sliding point. We pervert the gospel of grace into a social service. The greatest testament to God's grace in the book was Christmas in the camp. Never mentioned in the movie.
Finally, America had to be pushed down in the movie. Keifer Sutherland's character, "Yanker", was never in the book. The first American we see is almost at the end and it is a paratrooper who confirms the end of the war.
Yanker is invented to show greedy American capitalism and bravado. He is the barter, the stealer. Yes, Yanker is converted... but only through suffering and humility. Do we have to play that message over and over. Is it so important to tell that we actually place a fictitious character in a movie based on facts?
So Hollywood took one of the best books I ever read on the reality of human suffering and the glory of the cross of Jesus Christ and.... cut Jesus out, lifted the Japanese up, bathed in a pool of multi-cultural feel good, took a nice slap at the Americans, paid lip service to redemptive themes- and patted themselves on the back for a job well done.
I am beginning to grieve more and more that we are being pulled away from any chance of truth and revival by the single eye of media world view. There is an editor- and his story is often not the truth. How can we get through? When the son of man returns... will He find faith on the earth?