Saturday 30 September 2023

Movie Review: Hell In The Pacific (1968)

Genre: World War Two Survival Drama
Director: John Boorman
Starring: Lee Marvin, Toshiro Mifune
Running Time: 103 minutes

Synopsis: During World War Two, an American navy pilot (Lee Marvin) and a Japanese soldier (Toshiro Mifune) are marooned on a tiny Pacific Ocean island. Separated by a language barrier, they remain hostile towards each other as the American attempts to steal water and food from the more resourceful Japanese. Eventually they reach a state of d├ętente and collaborate to build a raft.

What Works Well: With minimal dialogue, director John Boorman distills the Pacific theatre to two men circling each other, dutifully loyal to animosity despite the obvious need to collaborate. The deliberate lack of translation bolsters enmity's walls, providing Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune the leeway to use the most simplified expressions of threats, taunts, and anger. Conrad Hall's pristine cinematography mocks military attitudes with celebrations of natural beauty.

What Does Not Work As Well: The noble concept exceeds the limits of cinematic execution. The nonexistent character backgrounds amplify the void of non-communication, truncating the drama and inviting boredom to the island.

Conclusion: It's easier to take men out of the war than war out of the men.

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