Monday, February 10, 2014

The Great Raid - the movie

The Great Raid, the movie, is based on the book, The Great Raid on Cabanatuan by William B. Breuer.  Made in 2005 and directed by John Dahl it is a true to life depiction of the most successful rescue in American military history.
552 POW’s were still imprisoned in Luzon having survived the Bataam Death March after being captured when MacCarthur retreated, on orders.  The allies would focus on Europe first before turning back on the Japanese. The years between were a horror for the POW's and the people of the Japanese occupied territories.  The brutality and sickening perversity of the Japanese is legendary.  133 US Rangers and 250 Filipino guerrillas attacked 220 Japanese guards with 1000 Japanese troops nearby.  Only 2 Rangers were killed. 2 prisoners and 21 Fillipinos wounded. Nearly a thousand Japanese were killed in addition to four tanks destroyed.
The movie depicts the resilience  of the prisoners in the camp, the inhuman callousness of the sociopathic Japanese, the extraordinary bravery of the Fillipino guerrillas and the exceptional soldiery and leadership of the Rangers. In addition,  the men and women of nearby communities and Manilla, who risked and sacrificed their lives to bring intelligence and aid to the Americans was shown.  The priests,doctors and nurses were especially penalized by the Japanese.  The movie is true to history.  The action is exciting but not so distracting as the normal hollywood action thriller with modernized dialogue and innuendo.  The historians touch is evident throughout.  This required the most sensitivity and skill by director and actors.
Benjamin Bratt plays Lt Colonel Mucci , while James Franco plays Captain Prince. Joseph Fiennes plays Major Gibson.  Robert Mammone plays Captain Fisher and Max Martini 1st Sgt Sid Wojo.  Connie Nielsen plays Margaret Utinsky and Natalie Mendoza plays Mina.  There are so many stars.
The cast is large.  All the acting was first rate and moving.  The movie also had footage from the actual events.  It’s a military re enactment, really, but with an artists mind for action, romance and drama.
I’ve watched it twice now.  Each time has been a truly richer experience. First, it was a war story with lots of action and play.  This second time the characters stood out most: the people of the Phillipines, the episodes in Manilla, the guerrillas themselves, the fillipina nurses, the executions of the locals.  First time round Lt Colonel Mucci left the most impression whereas this time round it was Margaret Utinsky.  An amazing historical film with real depth.
It was truly inspiring, the story and the movie.

No comments: