Movies You May Have Missed: To End All Wars
- Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Original release date: Dec. 6 2002
Run Time: 125 min
Rating: R (for war violence, and some language)
Genre: War, Drama
Directed By: David L. Cunningham
Starring: Ciarán McMenamin, Robert Carlyle, Kiefer Sutherland, Mark Strong, Yugo Saso
Typically when someone asks for a good war movie, they'll end up with something like Black Hawk Down, We Were Soldiers, or Saving Private Ryan.
To End All Wars usually doesn't make it onto anybody's top ten list. In fact, the movie has flown under the radar for almost ten years now. Despite all this, To End All Wars still proves to be both a powerful and moving testament to the soldiers of WWII.
Released in 2002, To End All Wars is based on the autobiography of Scottish soldier Ernest Gordon and opens with Ernest (played by Ciarán McMenamin), along with a number of his brothers in arms, being captured by Japanese forces and taken to a remote jungle prison.
The Japanese code of bushido condemns surrender, and as prisoners, their captors see them as little more than rabid dogs. Starved from lack of food and plagued by diseases, the men slowly begin to waste away in body and soul.
It's here that Ernest is approached by some fellow inmates with an offer: Become our teacher. Having mentioned his plan to become a professor, the men hope Ernest's teaching will make the days more bearable.
Ernest reluctantly accepts, and begins tutoring the men in subjects like literature, philosophy, and art, while encouraging a pacifist approach to their captors.
Not everyone is happy with the arrangement though. The camp warden becomes increasingly suspicious of Ernest's motives, and a second group of men begin to form under the leadership of Ernest's superior officer, Ian Campbell (Robert Carlyle).
Unlike Ernest, Campbell is dead set on escaping the prison by any means necessary, but not before exacting revenge on their captors. Meanwhile, standing on the outskirts of both sides are Jim Rearton (Kiefer Sutherland), an opportunistic American and Dusty (Mark Strong), the prisons unofficial pastor.
Despite the familiar stars associated with the movie, To End All Wars remained largely anonymous. One reason may be that the movie was filmed before many of the actors had landed their most popular roles on screen. Kiefer Sutherland had yet to dawn the mantel of CTU agent Jack Bauer in FOX's hit series 24, and Mark Strong wouldn't be recognized for his roles in Kick-Ass, Green Lantern, or Sherlock Holmes for several years. Also, the films modest budget and Christian themes may have added to its obscurity by appealing only to a niche market.
Regardless, the performances are more than adequate. Mark Strong and Kiefer Sutherland develop complex and interesting characters, and Ciarán McMenamin's portrayal of Ernest is particularly well delivered.
There are no battle scenes in To End All Wars. Instead, the movie explores the moral and spiritual battles men face when confronted by true horror. If you're a history buff, or enjoy deep, thought-provoking films, To End All Wars will draw you in with its moral complexities. Those hoping for action and explosions should probably look elsewhere.
So, the next time you have a free weekend, consider renting To End All Wars and see a different side of WWII story. The movie is certainly deserving of at least one watch, and it will leave you wondering what a single life is really worth.
Language/Profanity: "F" word, Lord's name taken in vain, "s-it", "d-mn", "a" word, British curses like "bloody-h-ll, wanker, and sot."
Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: The men smoke; Rearton makes sake (rice alcohol), the warden likes alcohol.
Sex/Nudity: The men wear rags and loincloths, no genital is shown.
Violence/Crime: People are shot, stabbed, and strangled. Men are beaten for disobedience, heat and water torture are shown, one man is beaten with a shovel, a character is crucified, the prison is bombed by planes, a soldier commits seppuku (the art of self-mutilation).
Religion/Morals: The men attend church services and are given Bibles to read, the bushido code is explored, ethics and philosophy are discussed.
*This article first published 6/29/2011
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content