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I came upon this film by accident Sunday afternoon as I channel surfed by
PBS station. I expected to laugh at it for a few minutes and then shut
its caricature of noble Brits and Yanks resisting their evil Asian
For the black and white glow from the screen prejudiced me to anticipate
another farcical exemplar of Edward Said's "Orientalism" transposed for
land of the rising sun.
So, unlike the first commentator on this film, I was actually pleased by
balance in its presentation. For although these days of Ozzie and Harriet
rarely projected overt brutality realistically onto the screen, this film
does provide a palpable sense of the suffering endured by European
of war. At the same time, it did not end on this note: one of the more
powerful Japanese camp directors suffers a loss in his family due to the
Hiroshima bombing. And it is this counterbalance later in the film which
think causes me to disagree with the first commentator's view that this is
something of a propaganda film.
Several things about this film stand out to me as justly bold for that era
*an attempted rape is portrayed as well as a realistic presentation of its
consequences. Accordingly, a complex moral lesson is imparted to the
audience: far more complex, I might add, than the lessons Hollywood
to impart in many contemporary films with respect to such events. Perhaps
this is simply an accident of the narrative being based on true
*the main character is a woman who is educated, brave and yet sympathizes
with Asian culture (she is a scholar who has published an anthropological
study which had been translated into Japanese) even if she vehemently
opposes Japan's aggression.
*Hiroshima and the firebombings of Tokyo are presented from the Japanese
viewpoint as horrific events and their effect in this movie is to engender
sympathy for the ambiguous figure of the camp commander.
Of course this is still a Hollywood movie of the 50s and some of the
behavior seems stilted and implausible to contemporary audiences. But
compared to some other films made then - or even today - it is a breath of
fresh air. I never expected to watch this whole film but was quite happy
did. I highly recommend it to others (which is why I bothered to write
this!) as a date movie (in spite of the subject matter the strong female
character and love story recommend it here) or a film to show children
ten (get a map so the child can locate Borneo) to introduce them to the
moral and political questions arising out of the war in the Pacific.
Tags for Vrouwenkamp Borneo Full Movie
, Florence Desmond
, Howard Chuman
, Mark Keuning
, Patric Knowles
, Phyllis Morris
, Sessue Hayakawa
, Sylvia Andrew
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