This tells a part of the story of World War II that is all but ignored, let alone forgotten. It is of the Australian rapid withdrawal from New Guinea. A contingent of soldiers who are mostly wounded with their doctors and nurses are retreating to a Catholic mission at Rabual. When they get there, the mission Sisters take them in and share everything with them.
They think the Americans are on their way to rescue them as this is 1942 and events at Pearl `Harbor' has brought the Americans into the War with a taste for vengeance. One nurse Lorna Wyhte (Sarah Snook) befriends one of the sisters, a sister Berenice (Claire van der Boom). They learn from and with each other and to face the horrors of trying to deal with the injured men and the lack of basic victuals and medicine.
Then they see boats landing in the lagoon and sing praise for their rescue by the Americans, only these boys aint Yanks. Their doctors say it's every man for himself and bravely run away. The few soldiers that are left go into the jungle to carry on the fight. The women do not know what to do and as one says `Their God isn't white, he doesn't play cricket and he won't give a hoot what happens to you'. The whole mission is soon turned into a prison camp. There is a big however, and it is not a plot spoiler, in that the Bishop of the mission is a German and therefore under the direct protection of the Fuhrer; this prevents the Japanese doing the normal slaughter.
What then develop is the stories of both the friends and how they try to get through captivity and the rest of the war. This is a beautifully shot film, it is well directed (Brendan Maher)and very well acted. It does not glorify or over vilify either side - there is good and bad etc. The only really ambiguous character is Bishop Scharmack (Gerald Lepkowski) who you are never really clear about. This lasts for 105 mins and you will think it a lot shorter, there is many a tug at the emotional heart strings and made even more moving when you know this is based on a true story. I thoroughly enjoyed this, but it is not an action war film, no battles a few bombs dropped, it is really a story of courage, friendship and survival. It is good to see another great Australian film in this vain to go with the likes of `Beneath Hill 60'Beneath Hill 60 [DVD
], Kokoda Kokoda - 39th Battalion [DVD
]and more recently `Balibo'Balibo [DVD
]. If you like offbeat historical war stories, you will want to see this, if you are looking for action, then this may not be for you, but I would urge you to give it a chance.