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ONODA: 10,000 NIGHTS IN JUNGLE (2021, JPN-FRA) Movie review, plot, trailer

A fascinating biographical drama whose story spans nearly 30 years in Japan was shot by French filmmaker Arthur Harari for which he was awarded the most important French film award, the Cesar, for best original screenplay. “Onoda: 10,000 Nights In Jungle” premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, and this epic drama is based on real events and a real Japanese soldier who hid in the Philippine forests until the mid-1970s, waiting for orders from his superiors. Although the film lasts almost three hours, “Onoda” was one of those amazing stories in which there are no problems with the tempo and which lasts for so long for a reason.

He made a Harari film with exclusively Japanese actors and in Japanese (there is also a version on the Internet where French voices are recorded and therefore caution), and the story begins in 1945 on the Philippine island where the Allies are launching an offensive. The commander of the few surviving detachments is Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda (Yuya Endo as a young man and Kanji Tsuda as an old man) who previously refused to be a kamikaze and then joined a secret unit with a special mission. His superiors issued orders that there would be no surrender and that the war would continue at all costs so when the Allies conquered the island in the Philippines, Onoda and his company would continue to fight. Admittedly, not all of them, because some of the Japanese soldiers will still surrender, but in the beginning, in addition to Onoda, three other stubborn soldiers will refuse to surrender in the jungles of the Philippines.

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Although it is clear to them that these are the last twitches of the war that Japan will lose, completely cut off from the rest of the world, Onoda and his people will show that typical Japanese stubbornness, pride and complete fanaticism. They are convinced that the situation will change one day and that Japan will launch a major counter-offensive and come after them, but years and even decades will pass, and they will be cut off from the world and continue with war activities that will soon turn into a fight. for bare survival. It is a film that stands out with its great photography, the environment is perfect, and “Onoda” was shot in a classic realistic style, so everything here seems very real.

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The main narrative line is occasionally broken by flashbacks in which we learn certain details of the secret mission ordered to Onodi. Or at least he thinks he has been given such an order because over the years the line between duty and the urge to survive will be completely erased and his comrades will show less and less enthusiasm to continue the mission over time. It was a great film about both internal and external struggle, an existentialist drama about man’s primordial instincts for survival, an emotional and poignant story about a man who literally went to war as a young man and will come out of it as an old man. Although the screenwriter and director of the film is French, “Onoda” is a film that perfectly evokes the old Japanese almost samurai spirit, completely subservient to the authorities and assuming what he thinks is better, in his own interest.

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