A shot-down American pilot finds his way to a small, unpopulated island where he hopes to find provisions. He soon discovers that he is not alone; there is a Japanese officer marooned on the island also. Will they continue to fight each other to the death, or will they reach a modus vivendi?
Lee Marvin ... American Pilot
Toshirô Mifune ... Captain Tsuruhiko Kuroda
I only discovered Hell in the Pacific after searching for Lee Marvin films as I have become enamored with his work as of late. I thought this was going to be a war movie from start to finish, which I'm not always a big fan of. I am glad to say I was surprised and very pleased with this film.
This is a rare work of film that uses two actors, limited dialog(half of it in Japanese), and only one location. There have been many attempts at making movies about people stranded on islands, but this one pulls it off in a way no other has.
Thsi is a film about not only survival, but overcoming prejudice towards ones sworn enemy in a time of war. It is about moving past the fears of what you do not know, and using what you do know and the basic need to survive to pull through and band together.
I was more enthralled by this movie with almost no dialog, than I have been with movies that have won screenplay Oscars. To me, this is an example that if you have the right actors, the right story, and the right setting, dialog is not always necessary.
A Japanese naval officer and an American pilot find themselves stranded alone on a desert island during WWII. How would you react to being marooned with a dangerous enemy? This film is an obscure treasure that should be better known. I suspect that people are put off by the cheesy and unsuitable title. The film explores the evolving relationship of two men from different cultures as they each struggle to find the best way to survive. Their collective fate is an exploration of the human condition.
One outstanding feature of this film is that it is in both Japanese and English, intentionally without sub-titles. An American or Japanese audience could watch this film and appreciate its message. This duality serves to heighten the cultural differences between the two men, and it is cultural bias that is the true enemy.
This is a truly cinematic experience: character and plot develop through visual storytelling. The two characters can't even speak the same language, but compelling performances speak volumes to the audience. The often breathtaking scenery provides a dramatic contrast to the ugliness of Man's cruelty. Marvin and Mifune show Man is bound to 'return to where he started;' sin spoils moments of grace despite our noblest intentions. The devastating ending perfectly completed the metaphor of the film.
The primal setting (in Panavision) and "Twilight Zone" ending reminded me of "Planet of the Apes." Fans of the Boorman-Marvin director-actor collaboration must see "Point Blank." Those who don't like island-survival films with controversial endings should avoid "Limbo."
What I would give to know only Japanese and watch this movie. You don't have to understand what Toshiro Mifune is saying to understand this movie.
Does war extend to the individual? Trained to kill or be killed, two adversaries face off. Each with his own fear that the other will succeed. Why didn't they kill each other when they had the chance? Because man is a social animal and he needs the company of others. To use a cliché - No man is an island.
And in the end conflict erupts. Not because of any innate difference between the two men - but because of how they define themselves in a greater scene. I am Japanese - you are American (and vice versa). Throw in the element of non-communication (neither spoke any of the other's language) and you have it.