Culture > Movies

Film: The road less traveled


Issue: "Louisiana's Buy-You-Election," May 17, 1997

Paradise Road, the latest from Chariots of Fire director Bruce Beresford, recounts the actual experiences of a group of European women and children captured by the Japanese as they were being evacuated from Singapore and imprisoned for three and a half years during World War II. Their response to the brutality of their captors was to sing the great music of their now-unfashionable Western heritage. Mr. Beresford is frank about the hardships the women endured, including the murder of one POW by burning her alive and internecine feuds over such basics as soap and food. Glenn Close pours her considerable abilities into the role of Adrienne Pargiter, the director of the &quotvocal orchestra." In the face of intimidation and torture, she is helped to keep a very British upper lip by the salt-of-the-earth missionary, Margaret Drummond (Pauline Collins). Her contribution to the POWs' spiritual counterattack was a memory for music and Scripture that allowed her to arrange more than 30 classical compositions and comfort the mourning with biblical truth. Mr. Beresford researched his story by interviewing survivors of the camp, and he faithfully recreates their performances with the actual sheet music produced by Miss Drummond, who died before the end of the war. This film is for mature audiences only. But regrettably Paradise Road is currently being screened through the &quotart house" circuit and is not widely available at cinemas with multi-screen capacity. Perhaps the topic of God-fearing Europeans defying brutal pagans with the classics of Western civilization makes Hollywood distributors uneasy.

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