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Film / Paradise Road

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"It is our Paradise Road... How silent is this place."

Paradise Road is a 1997 war film by Australian director Bruce Beresford, starring Glenn Close, Frances McDormand, and Julianna Margulies. It is also notable as containing one of a young Cate Blanchett's very first film roles.

The film charts the journey of a group of women from Australia, the USA, the UK and the Netherlands as they are taken prisoner by the Japanese in World War 2. One of the women, Adrienne Pargiter (Close), decides to start a vocal orchestra to lift the spirits of the inmates, but the domineering Japanese guards want to put a stop to it.

Based on stories of women who survived internment in Japanese POW camps, Paradise Road is a story of hope, courage and survival. It is studied in Australian schools as an example of conflict, Australian history, and women's stories.

Tropes included in this film:

  • America Saves the Day: Topsy hopes 'her boys' will invoke this, and by dropping bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki they kind of do.
    • Though Australia is mentioned to be chasing the Japanese soldiers around the Pacific Islands and this is arguably more threatening.
  • Break the Cutie: The movie.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Glenn Close's character is locked in a cage in full sun, and Cate Blanchett's character is made to kneel surrounded by spikes, in the Sumatran sun, for two days and a night.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Dozens of Japanese fighter planes versus a passenger boat full of women and children.
  • Due to the Dead: The notable examples would be the first funeral in the camp where we get the first Title Drop, and Margaret/Daisy's funeral where the women, after being taunted by the Smug Snake, pick up stones and play a march.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Dr. Verstak keeps herself alive by broadcasting that she is a doctor. Toward the end of the movie, she reveals to the women that she is a doctor of philosophy. However, her husband was a physician and she does have some medical knowledge.
  • Plucky Girl: Cate Blanchett's character Susan is the most obvious example but almost all the protagonists to some extent.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The bald Japanese guard who sings to Glenn Close, and the interpreter who was conscripted and used to be a schoolteacher
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: The movie opens with the fall of Singapore in WW2 and everyone is having a giant party, despite the encroaching Japanese invasion force. At one point a shell bursts right outside the hotel they are all partying in, and the waitstaff's response is to try and protect the elaborate champagne fountains and stop fleeing people stealing drinks. Both service personnel and civilians are present here, and nobody seems to be taking the threat of invasion seriously. Sadly this is very much based in reality.
  • Smug Snake: The Japanese Secret Police member.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: The British characters.
  • Title Drop: Starts off as something vaguely hopeful when Margaret gives the eulogy at Wing's funeral but ends up a euphemism for dying.