Film lays bare the horror of war-time brutality

MY wife and I took a not-so-frequent trip to the movies earlier this month.

She had heard that The Railway Man was worth a look, so we headed off after work one night, grabbed the 6.30 session, sat down and watched.

I had absolutely no idea what The Railway Man was about, but I was quite prepared for a bit of light relief.

Light relief it was not - it was a gripping story about the building of the Thailand to Burma railway during the Japanese occupation in the Second World War.

Thousands of prisoners of war from Australia, New Zealand, Britain and other countries, along with tens of thousands of Asians were tasked to build the railway over land previously considered completely unsuitable.

The Railway Man tells the story of Englishman Eric Lomax who suffered incredible abuse at the hands of the Japanese.

For Lomax the remainder of his life was dominated by his desire to get the demons out of his head.

Coincidentally, I received a fascinating book for Christmas last year.

It's called The Narrow Road to the Deep North, written by Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan - another tale based on fact about the building of what has become known as the Death Railway.

Flanagan's story tells of an Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans and his experiences treating the thousands of POWs who were brought down with the dreaded cholera, plus many other tropical diseases, dehydration, malnutrition and other maladies.

Once again the story tells of the brutality of the Japanese, and of their desire to force workers to relentlessly toil every day on what had been considered as a pointless exercise those many years before.

That my viewing of the film and the reading (not finished yet) of the book happened around the same time strengthened my lack of understanding of how human beings can treat each other in such barbaric ways.

Oh, if only we could have peace. What a wonderful world it would be.