Ellon Cinema Reviews

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This month saw a talking dog and his son travel through time and a veteran POW meet a figure of his past in an attempt to release his personal demons at the latest Ellon Cinema event.

Vicki and John Morgan reviewed the films.

Mr Peabody and Sherman- Vicki Morgan

At last, a really entertaining and funny children痴 film released for all the family to enjoy. Based on the characters from the 1960s 迭Rocky and Bullwinkle Show Mr Peabody, a super-intelligent talking dog and his adopted son, Sherman, are brought into the present day by the Dreamworks team.

We are introduced to the duo who are now living in New York, enjoying adventures in Peabody’s time-machine, the WABAC and we see Sherman about to start school. Penny, who gets into a fight with Sherman over historical inaccuracies, takes the WABAC for a joyride and here the story proper begins. We find Mr Peabody and Sherman having to rescue Penny from a marriage to King Tutankhamen and what follows is an action-packed adventure taking the audience through key moments of history in an hilarious time-travelling journey. A bit like 釘ill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure but for kids.

This was a brilliant film. There have been a few children’s films released recently which involve a time-machine and I did wonder if I was going to be bored senseless like I had been with the others. Happily this was not the case at all and I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I’m sure that a lot of the jokes and historical references would have been lost on the younger members of the audience but they didn’t seem to care, the funny dog and boy were enough for them to enjoy it and I’m sure the calm, friendly voice of Ty Burrell (I’d never heard of him before but I’ll look out for him now!) as Mr Peabody contributed to the success of this film. As a sequel to the 1960s cartoon, I think this is a lot more approachable, the voices are similar to the original characters but are warmer and more friendly and the characters themselves more adaptable to the big screen. Just as the famous historical characters are brought to the future, the eponymous duo have been brought up to date too, and I’m glad they have. Some things in the past should stay there but I’m glad Mr Peabody and Sherman have come back to us with their history lessons and if they surreptitiously get kids wanting to learn more about history as well then that can only be a good thing.

My daughter loved it and gave it a million out of ten. I’m going to be a little more reserved and go for an 8/10, but still my best score for a kid’s film yet!

The Railway- Man John Morgan

Ellon Cinema痴 evening film, playing to a full-house, was The Railway Man based on the real-life experiences of Eric Lomax, a British officer and, ironically, a railway enthusiast, who is captured and imprisoned by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in 1942 and sent to work on the infamous Burma railroad. I grew up in Singapore, and although this was decades after the war, in the mid 80s, memories are long and I actually met members of the Far East Prisoner of War Society and also local witnesses to some of the atrocities described in the book, so this film held a personal resonance to me. Mr Lomax was intimately involved in the production of the film, but sadly he passed away before it was finished. I think he would have on the whole approved of the finished production, but he may have had issues with some of the artistic adaptions referring to the eventual meeting of the two old warriors.

In the somewhat over-dramatised film, Lomax is hell-bent on revenge and is planning to kill his former torturer, resulting in a nerve-wracking meeting scene. However, in the real story as portrayed in the book, Lomax, with the admirable assistance of an organisation called the 閃edical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture(not even mentioned in the film), has already corresponded with Nagase several times and the meeting has been planned months in advance. In fact, the meeting was funded and filmed by a film company and the film of the actual initial meeting has been uploaded onto the internet on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do3FwIymiqI).

This film is excellent. Some would find the constant flashbacks from the older Lomax (Colin Firth) to the younger Lomax (Jeremy Irvine) a distraction, but flashbacks are a common symptom of traumatic stress disorders and I believe this assists the viewer in sympathising with Lomax. The rather disturbing torture scenes in particular have been reported as being very accurate by experts.

“The Railway Man” is portrayed as both a love story and a desire for revenge, with the reconciliation as a mere afterthought. However, although Mr Lomax acknowledges in his book that he owes a lot to his wife Patty, portrayed by Nicole Kidman, the reconciliation of torturer and tortured, and redemption and forgiveness are the over-riding concepts I believe Lomax wanted to communicate, so the film fails in this respect. Nagase was as much a victim of his past as Lomax, and perhaps this could have been explored more. Nevertheless, this film, and the book, throws up several questions.

We should endeavour to gather British and Commonwealth recollections of this theatre of war into the public psyche as soon as possible before the first-hand accounts slip out of living memory. Perhaps the next account of this time to be portrayed on the silver screen may be Aberdeen痴 own Alistair Urquhart痴 典The Forgotten Highlander

Although the fictionisation of the eventual meeting did, for me, spoil the film somewhat, more of these stories have to be told, and everyone should watch this film to become aware of the atrocities perpetrated by men upon men during warfare. One to watch, 8/10.