There’s a pivotal line in The Railway Man when Colin Firth’s character, Eric Lomax, responds to his former World War II captor and torturer who says that what happened to Lomax and the other POW’s decades earlier was a tragedy. Lomax is appalled and says, “What you did wasn’t a tragedy. It was murder.” That’s the truth part.
It’s hard to watch what Lomax endured at the hands of his captors in a POW camp working on the Thai-Burma Railway during the war. Unfortunately for Lomax even though he comes out of the war alive, he suffers from psychological trauma for years. His torture continued well after the war ended.
His way out is to confront his torturer, who escaped prosecution for his war crimes. Lomax is determined to get the revenge he’s longed for years. Not just for himself, but also for fellow POWs, some of which couldn’t cope with the lingering trauma, so they took their own lives.
My intent here is not to write a typical review of The Railway Man. Before getting to my main objective of this post, I’ll simply say that the acting is brilliant, the writing is superb, and the peek into a POW survivor’s traumatized mind is painful.
My intent is to encourage you to watch this movie. Not because it’s exciting and entertaining, but because it does what so few movies do. It captures the essence of what truth and reconciliation is. Watch it for this reason alone.
If you do watch this movie. Be patient. The ending is worth the time you invest.
Canada has its own Truth and Reconciliation story with our shameful Residential Schools for our First Nations brothers and sisters. I pray that every Canadian takes the opportunity to know that story and to play their role in helping others know that truth and be part of creating reconciliation.
The Railway Man is available on Netflix. Click here to view the trailer.
“Too many Canadians know little or nothing about the deep historical roots of these conflicts. This lack of knowledge has serious consequences for First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples and for Canada.”
~ Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report