‘The Railway Man’: WWII Drama that Explores Understanding on the Effects of War (with Trailer)


2013 is a year of biopics; one such is the film adaptation of Eric Lomax’s memoirs – a story of despair, hurt but is tinged with hope in the end. A story that captures how war effects the men who dealt with it.

Meet the Railway Man

Eric Lomax, a Scotland-native serviceman who served the Allied Forces during the Second World War stationed in Burma, was a real-life ardent trainspotter who was plagued by the brutal emotional scars he experienced in the hands of the enemy when Allied Forces in Singapore surrendered to the Japanese, taking down with it the whole Malayan peninsula including the country where he was assigned.

The resulting story of his fight with his nightmares including facing the captor who broke his soul is one full of hope and learning.

Patti, Eric’s wife and played by Nicole Kidman in the movie, was intense in promoting the movie an important mine of knowledge for families with loved ones who serve in Afghanistan or Iraq.

“Unless they get real help immediately after they come back, and ongoing, for themselves and their families, then the trauma they have received colors their whole lives,” she said.

Shameful Part of WWII History?

Frank Cottrell Boyce who did the screen adaptation of Eric’s memoirs into film had this to say about the story’s background:

“We didn’t want to hear stories about defeat and, in fact, surrender. That wasn’t the right time for them. And then collectively those men had been so traumatized that they didn’t speak themselves. They never had a voice.”

Boyce believed that British Allied soldiers who had went through harrowing experiences during WWII chose to keep mum about these because Britain had won the said war and they felt their testimonies would have just been ignored when they do speak up about these.

Even Colin Firth who played Eric’s character in the movie had inferred about the same thought when he said this piece:

“This whole chapter of history didn’t feature certainly in my classes, nor in film lore in the way the European wars did. It’s not as much a part of the conversation.”

Nevertheless, Boyce re-echoed Patti Lomax’s words when he said that the movie’s topic, though it occurred in WWII, is very much relevant in today’s reality. He pointed out one scene from The Railway Man which featured Eric going through water torture.

“These are very live issues,” Cottrell Boyce pointed out. “This isn’t just about a forgotten moment in history. The way that Eric was tortured was water-boarding. When we first started working on this film that seemed like a kind if antique remote thing and now it’s part of how we do business in the West.”

Spreading that Message of Hope

Eric Lomax had passed the prior year; before he could see his own story shown in a movie. His wife Patti, shortly followed. But while filming the said film, Patti and one of their (Eric’s and hers) sons was present throughout the production to see if the scenes done were close to reality.

The film’s story revolves around how Lomax found his prime tormentor in Thailand and after a series of confrontations, the two became close friends.

Patti hoped that is the message audience will see and keep in their hearts after watching The Railway Man.

“No matter how bleak life might be there’s always a way forward if you’re open to see it. Hanging on to old angers and slights and whatever life throws at you shouldn’t stop you living. I think really that is a legacy that my husband has left. And it’s as relevant to today as it was to yesterday,” she said.

-Article based onThe Guardian



Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE