6.8/10
4,490
52 user 31 critic

Paradise Road (1997)

Fact-based recounting of a group of women who are imprisoned on the island of Sumatra by the Japanese during World War II and used music as a relief to their misery.

Director:

Writers:

(story), (story) | 2 more credits »

Watch Now

From $3.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Parklands (1996)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Rosie returns to her home city on the death of her father, a former policeman. His diaries hint at corruption, and she also receives hints and veiled threats which support her suspicions. ... See full summary »

Director: Kathryn Millard
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Tony Martin, Carmel Johnson
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In mid-1800s England, Oscar is a young Anglican priest, a misfit and an outcast, but with the soul of an angel. As a boy, even though from a strict Pentecostal family, he felt God told him ... See full summary »

Director: Gillian Armstrong
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Cate Blanchett, Ciarán Hinds
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

The romantic myth is exposed for Guy when he is plagued by memories of an old girlfriend on his wedding day.

Director: Cherie Nowlan
Stars: Richard Roxburgh, Cate Blanchett, Frances O'Connor
Hexed (1993)
Comedy | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

Lowly hotel clerk Matthew Welch stumbles unto a chance to go on a date with supermodel Hexina by pretending he is someone else. But something goes wrong on the date, she tries to kill him! ... See full summary »

Director: Alan Spencer
Stars: Arye Gross, Claudia Christian, Adrienne Shelly
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A young writer goes to Wiesbaden to write about gambling and gamblers, only to ultimately become a compulsive gambler himself. Losing all his wealth, as well as his moral fibre, he commits ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Melvyn Douglas
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A young Scottish woman joins the French Resistance during World War II to rescue her Royal Air Force boyfriend who is lost in France.

Director: Gillian Armstrong
Stars: Cate Blanchett, James Fleet, Abigail Cruttenden
City of Joy (1992)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Hazari Pal lives in a small village in Bihar, India, with his dad, mom, wife, Kamla, daughter, Amrita, and two sons, Shambhu and Manooj. As the Pal are unable to repay the loan they had ... See full summary »

Director: Roland Joffé
Stars: Patrick Swayze, Pauline Collins, Om Puri
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The account of troubled relationship between Mahatma Gandhi and his eldest son.

Director: Feroz Abbas Khan
Stars: Akshaye Khanna, Darshan Jariwala, Shefali Shah
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In Brooklyn, fishing is the hobby of the workers Jonah Goodwin and Olaf Johnson and they use to fish every night in their old boat. Jonah's daughter is the twenty-one year-old telephone ... See full summary »

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Ida Lupino, John Garfield, Thomas Mitchell
Avalon (1990)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A Polish-Jewish family comes to the USA at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. There, the family and their children try to make themselves a better future in the so-called promised land.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth Perkins, Leo Fuchs
The Hard Way (1943)
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Embittered, ambitious Helen Sherman sees an opportunity to escape her drab small-town life by becoming a 'stage mother' to her musically-talented younger sister.

Director: Vincent Sherman
Stars: Ida Lupino, Joan Leslie, Dennis Morgan
Police Rescue (1994)
Action | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A new recruit to Sydney's Police Rescue squad is accused of corruption.

Director: Michael Carson
Stars: Gary Sweet, Zoe Carides, Steve Bastoni
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Sister Wilhelminia (as Johanna Ter Steege)
...
...
...
...
...
...
Penne Hackforth-Jones ...
Edit

Storyline

The group of women from different countries and social levels are prisoners in a Japanese POW camp, where one of them, Adrienne, who is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, organizes a vocal band in spite of their guards resistance. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for prisoner of war brutality and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

11 April 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Estrada do Paraíso  »

Box Office

Budget:

$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$577,651 (USA) (27 April 1997)

Gross:

$1,921,471 (USA) (1 June 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

When the film ends, the war has ended. In reality, as the closing statement mentions, the women did not leave the P.O.W camp for another two weeks, as Alllied soldiers did not arrive at the the Belalau internment camp (the most remote of them all) until a fortnight after the end of the war. At this time, they were taken to Singapore and Sumatra where they received medical treatment and after that they returned to their various homes. See more »

Goofs

Given that each of the women wore a single dress, day in and day out, in a tropical climate for three years straight, the fabric of their clothing would have disintegrated long before that was finally depicted in the film. Also, there's no way that the nuns would have been able to keep the white elements of their habits white, especially given the scarcity of soap. See more »

Quotes

Captain Tanaka: So no more heroic singing from your ladies.
See more »

Connections

References Tenko (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Mad About the Boy
Written by Noël Coward
© Chappell Music Limited
By kind permission of Chappell Music Australia Pty Ltd
Performed by Julie Anthony
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Lest We Forget
21 February 2005 | by (Melbourne, Australia) – See all my reviews

Paradise Road is based on the true story of women POWs in Sumatra during WWII. The film, for the most part, follows what really happened... with one glaring exception!

The incident that is prominently missing from Paradise Road is the Bangka Island massacre, which was one of the worst atrocities committed against women POWs during WWII and is an integral part of this story.

After their ship, The SS Vyner Brooke, was sunk, the survivors made for the nearest land which was Bangka Island. They came to shore in different places but a group of more than a hundred people ended up on Radji beach. The group consisted of 22 Australian Army nurses, some civilian men, women and children, and 30 British soldiers from another ship which had been sunk. The island was fully occupied by the Japanese and the group unanimously decided to give themselves up. The group leader set off to find someone to surrender to. The civilian women and children began walking towards the main town on the island. The 22 nurses remained behind with the men and the soldiers (many of whom were badly wounded), an elderly British woman also remained with her wounded husband.

When the group leader returned with a group of 20 Japanese, they ignored all requests for surrender. The Japanese shot and bayoneted the men, then ordered the 23 women to walk into the ocean. When they reached waist depth, the Japanese open fired with a machine gun and mowed the women down.

There was one survivor. One of the nurses, Vivian Bullwinkel, was shot through the side and survived by pretending to be dead. She hid in the jungle for 12 days, caring for a British soldier who had been bayoneted and left for dead (he later died). Eventually, she gave herself up and was re-united with the rest of the women in the prison camp in Muntok. When she told them what had happened on the beach and they quickly realised that they would all be killed if the Japanese learned there was a witness to the massacre. So they made a pact not to speak of it again until they were free.

Paradise Road is a fictional film based loosely on fact, not a documentary. Sometimes it is necessary to make changes to the real sequence of events in order for the film's structure and pacing to work. I do accept this and I would prefer to see a good film rather than a accurate one.

But in leaving out the massacre on the beach, the film does a disservice to these women. These women were aware, from the start of their internment, that the Japanese were capable of atrocities on a massive scale and that there was no safety in numbers. They lived in a constant state of fear that the Japanese would repeat such an act or learn that Vivian Bullwinkel had survived the massacre and kill them all.

Paradise Road tries to portray Japanese atrocities with a fictitious incident where a woman is set on fire (which did not really happen) but this does not compare to the scale of the 80 people massacred on Radji beach and the effect it had on the women in the camp. There were 32 Australian Army nurses in the camp and the women who died on the beach were their friends and colleagues. They were from the same unit and had nursed together for the first two years of the war. All their interactions with the Japanese guards were coloured by the knowledge that they had murdered 22 of their friends in cold blood.

Paradise Road is a very good movie and I suspect it will become the definitive film about female POWs during WWII. Which sadly means that the 22 women who were murdered on Radji beach will be lost from memory... and they deserve better than that.

If you want to learn more about the women POWs of Sumatra, I suggest you read "White Coolies: Australian Nurses Behind Enemy Lines," the diary kept by camp survivor Betty Jeffrey, or read the biography "Bullwinkel" by Norman G. Manners. There is also an excellent 1985 documentary called "Song of Survival", and a really tacky episode of "Willesee's Australians" that dramatises the story of Vivian Bullwinkel.


54 of 61 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page