Sunday, September 8, 2013

Colin Firth tackles story of torture, forgiveness in 'Railway Man'

British actor Colin Firth arrives for the film premiere of ''Railway Man'' at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto September 6, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill

By Jeffrey Hodgson
TORONTO | Sun Sep 8, 2013 6:37am IST\

(Reuters) - Actor Colin Firth said on Saturday he felt a special sense of obligation portraying the true story of a British soldier who was tortured and then suffered for decades before finding the strength to forgive his captors.

In "The Railway Man," which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday, Firth portrays World War Two veteran Eric Lomax, who was captured by the Japanese and spent years as a prisoner of war.

"You just want to be absolutely sure that you don't drop the baton, that you don't compromise how well this story has been told up to now, despite your limitations. Such care has been taken to get the truth out there," Firth, who won an Oscar in 2011 for his performance in "The King's Speech," told reporters in Toronto.

The film begins in the later decades of Lomax's life, when he meets and falls in love with his future wife Patti, played by Nicole Kidman. Their marriage was tested by his nightmares and breakdowns, a legacy of the beatings and other torture he suffered.

Lomax is forced to confront his past when he learns that Takashi Nagase, the young English-speaking officer who participated in his brutal interrogations, is still alive.

Screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce said that sadly, while the film is historical, topics like the trauma of torture victims and returning soldiers are as relevant as ever.

"The way that Eric was tortured was water-boarding. When we first started working on this film, that seemed like a kind of antique, remote thing. And now it's part of how we do business in the West," he told reporters.


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