But that is a strikingly depressing and difficult truth for one to learn, especially at an early age when the dreams and promise of what can be, are very often, and very soon, replaced with…well, no, things aren’t quite going to work out that way after all. In the end, the fact of the matter is that one is not shown HOW something cannot happen according to those metaphysical plans conjured up during the years spent in the youthful “home” of the soul. No, quite often, one is shown WHY this just can’t happen. It is up to each who learns this lesson, gain this pearl, this small bit of wisdom, to find new meaning within what can occasionally appear the lost and wandering pointless events of adult life.
Oh…again with the humble pie for lunch. What gives? Where’s the meaning in all of this doom and anti-bloom? In The Burmese Harp, a group of Japanese soldiers are sent to tell another group of Japanese soldiers that the war has ended. Instead, the soldiers fighting this final, and pointless (at least on the surface) battle refuse to surrender as it would tarnish their honor and besmirch their collective character.
Well…the war’s over, and sometimes YOU are the one who lost, and dealing with that hard fact isn’t an easy thing to do if you have been trained for nothing short of victory. Surrender or quitting, or, again, giving up those dreams of a Greater Glory, is not something that one can easily embrace. These Japanese soldiers, fighting that one last Burmese campaign don’t stop—because to stop means that they betray their original commitment, their original promise to themselves, a promise which is always kept, right?
And yet, this commitment, this promise to a youthful ideal no longer exists. Instead, it has been replaced with the reality that often how you deal with tragedy is far more important than understanding why the tragedy took place. This really difficult path towards wisdom, an almost microscopic, small and narrow path, is discovered by a Japanese solider who has been sent to make sure that the group of Japanese soldiers that are still fighting in Burma against the British stop. They don’t, of course. They can’t because that is how they have been trained, this is the life that they believe to be honest and true, and they know of no other way but The Way Towards Their Inevitable Fate.
But one lone and courageous man, a soldier named Private Mizushima, sent to stop the Japanese soldiers from continuing their campaign, and played with subtle grace and expert craftsmanship by Shoji Yasui, does back away from the madness. Mizushima witnesses the horror that surrounds his every step, sinks below the surface of life to breathe in deeply, learning a new way, and a path towards understanding what to do next.
Mebbe I missed the joke but it is The Bridge on the River Kwai.
Alas, you did.
The title reads The Bridge on the River Why so as to nod to WHY we do what we do as much as HOW we make that happen. And…the film in question here is The Burmese Harp, and not the David Lean classic you referenced.
Thank you for reading, though. Much appreciated!
Great idea this, i’m glad you’re enjoying it. I need some time to think about this
Follow me on Twitter