Uncut - 08/01/2001
"One of the most unusual war films ever made....The stark, linear narrative is driven by two intensely psychological portraits from Mifune and Marvin..."
Director John Boorman's typical bravado is somewhat muted in this WWII parable. Set in the Pacific in 1944, the film focuses on two combatants stranded on the same barren atoll: a Japanese naval officer (Toshirô Mifune) and a U.S. marine pilot (Lee Marvin). At first the two men warily stalk each other, both revealing something by refusing to kill the other when the opportunity arises. At length the Japanese officer captures and harnesses the American, who ultimately escapes, returns, and ties up his opponent. The American finally releases his prisoner as both men grasp the pointlessness of their behavior, and a tacit truce develops between them, since neither can understand the other's language. After some scenes of mutually incomprehensible yelling and a bit of water torture, the Japanese man begins building a raft. The American's initial derision is replaced by an awareness that his cooperation would likely speed their departure and increase their odds of survival. In what is virtually a silent film, Boorman invokes his recurring "man against nature" theme, here reconfigured as a plea for human solidarity. Marvin is excellent, while Mifune is a virtuoso of the kind of physical acting the film requires, and Conrad Hall's camerawork does justice to the spectacular beauty of the Micronesian islands.
Two soldiers--one American and the other Japanese--find themselves stranded on a deserted isle during World War II. Their deeply embedded prejudices and the antagonisms get a cathartic release as the pair fight, and eventually cooperate, to escape the remote rock.
Theatrical Release |
World War II
Theatrical release: December 18, 1968.
Shot on locations on Koror and other Palau islands of Micronesia.
Director John Boorman had paired with actor Lee Marvin for POINT BLANK in the previous year.
Toshirô Mifune, one of Japan's greatest actors, appears in many of director Akira Kurosawa's most celebrated films, including RASHOMON, THE SEVEN SAMURAI, THRONE OF BLOOD, and YOJIMBO.
Mifune had learned English two years prior to this film for his role in director John Frankenheimer's GRAND PRIX.