The Railway Man

Apologies….terrible cliche coming up.

I spent several years in Thailand working and soaking up Thai and south east Asian culture and hospitality. The weather. The food. The People.

During one of our many holiday periods, rather than running of the the white sand and clear waters of the Andaman or Thai Gulf, we went north to Kanchanaburi.

Many of our friends had recommended we go for the peace offered by the Kwai river and the surrounding falls or Erawan further north. So that’s what we did.

After a few days of relaxing by the river we chose to visit the local museums and memorial to those that worked and died building the railway. I like to think that I always show my due respects to these kinds of days and locations. I read many names of those that were lost in the building of the railway and bridge, and I felt truly thankful for heroism and efforts during that awful time. But.

And here is where, as I noted earlier,  I must apologise when I say I never truly let it in.

I thought I did, but I hadn’t even scratched the surface. And for this I am sorry for those who were there during this time. It was awful.

The portrayal of Eric Lomax and what he experienced during the building of the railway is truly harrowing, as it exposes not just what one man went through, but many building this railway.

The story of the Railway Man deals with the personal conflict of one man and her persecutor during this time, played brilliantly by Colin Firth and Jeremy Irvine. The former dealing with the post trauma with utter brilliance, making us powerless to his closed personality as he tries to keep his experience locked in, causing the viewer and a wonderful Nicole Kidman total frustration as we patiently try to get closer. And the latter making us fearful viewers in his suffering at the hands of his torturers, where all we can do is watch and weep in anger.

A point is reached in the story where Lomax has the opportunity to confront his persecutor from years passed, and this opportunity is taken. It was at this part where I realised my ignorance on my visit to this place.

Watching Colin Forth walk around the Bridge on River Kwai museum taking the same steps I took, but portraying far more horrific memories, really made me feel rather pathetic.

But this is testament to the event and the superb portrayal this movie offers.

This causes (and this may be more personal for me) the movie to become more experience than story. Our meeting this slightly quirky rail enthusiast, leaning more about his past torments and pains and the truly wonderful closing the story delivers. This goes beyond film, and deals with being human.

Understanding. Appreciating. Forgiving. A true experience.

Thanks for reading.

Geek Paul