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Sisters of War [DVD]
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This is a made for Australian TV movie. During WWII Australia is fighting the Japanese. They are on an island in New Guinea. When a ship lands, they think it is the Americans come to rescue them only to find it is the Japanese. The Australian soldiers flee to the jungle leaving behind the hospital and nurses and nuns to the "mercy" of the Japanese. The bishop manages to save their lives by claiming they are Nazis loyal to Hitler.

The hospital suffers hardships. Australian soldiers are captured and tortured. One of the Japanese soldiers form bonds with a nun and break the stereotypes. The bishop, who saved them is suspected of being a traitor. Tradition religious beliefs are questioned during the hardships of war. The nurses work to save people they would rather see die. The Americans have no misgivings about bombing what they think is an enemy hospital. The movie makes you feel the sad realities of war without constantly showing you the horrors of war. And like real life, there are some moments of humor and gladness. The Japanese captain, who had initially ordered the death of everyone shows he is more than a one-sided stereotyped figure we see in so many WWII films.

Sarah Snook gives us an Academy performance as Nurse Lorna Whyte. She sees things as black and white, good and evil. She excuses the Americans for their deeds. She is friends with a nun excellently portrayed by Claire van der Boom. Claire likewise has a black and white code, but one that is solidly different from Lorna's.

Excellent acting. Excellent drama.

No f-bombs, nudity, or sex. There are minimal scenes of violence to women.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2013
In 1991 auctioneer Rod Miller found a diary that had belonged to Grace Kruger with cryptic writing inside, he researched the events inside the diary and in 1997 met two of the people who would eventually be depicted in the film. He then met other people connected with the diary, and some twenty years after finding Grace Kruger's cryptic prose "Sisters Of War" was produced.

This is not an action film full of battle scenes, it is a film about the experiences of the captives and of the captors during the occupation of Papua New Guinea by the Japanese.

Based on real events, it is an account of the invasion of New Britain (Papua New Guinea) in 1942 by Japan, and the imprisonment of Australian soldiers, nurses, nuns and a Bishop by the invaders, at a catholic mission, of atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers, and the story of those who did or in some cases did not survive.

The Japanese are informed by the Bishop that the mission has the blessing of Hitler (one of Japans allies) the people of the mission thus avoiding immediate execution - but for how long?

This is not (thankfully) a big budget Hollywood blockbuster - it is an Australian television production, and what an excellent one it is too. Superb performances convey the unimaginable tension of the situation, and, as is the nature of war, the fact that no one knew how or when it would end for them.

With the one and a half hour main film there are some short features on the DVD: "The Women Behind The Film" documentary; "On The Set" documentary; "Deleted Scenes"; "Paulini Curuenavuli Music Video"; and other trailers.

The "The Women Behind The Film" documentary with two of the captives - Sister Berenice Twohill and nurse Lorna Whyte, is recommended viewing.

The Sisters Of War is a brilliantly acted film that is full of tension, it is informative (there are historical notes given at the end of the film) telling of political decisions that only came to light many years after the war. The DVD had some interesting extras especially the one on Sister Berenice Twohill and Nurse Lorna Whyte.

Five star DVD.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 10 August 2011
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.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 August 2011
Very engaging Australian film about two women, one a nurse and the other a nun, and their differing approaches on how to cope with Japanese imprisonment in WW2. The film highlights the need to remain mentally strong and with a clear focus, if one is to survive. For those seeking blood and guts and 'Banzai!' charges look elsewhere, as this is a more subtle character driven WW2 film - although to my mind this is a plus. The extras include a moving real life interview with the two women and one can feel the strength of their characters during the short interview, even allowing for the passage of time. In short, this is a story that both educates and entertains.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Australians continue to keep churning out some pretty decent films at this time. "Beneath Hill 60" and "Red Hill" are two excellent recent examples. This one is perhaps not as good those, but it is certainly not a bad effort. Although it is a made for TV movie it does manage to punch above its weight. It is based on the fascinating story of Australian nurses and catholic nuns who were captured in New Britain, Papua New Gunea during the rapid Japanese advance through South East Asia in 1942. The story follows them as they survive the ever present spectre of execution, and how they band together for support during these dark years. Japanese treatment of World War Two prisoners is well known to westerners, a dwindling handful of whom still remember those wartime atrocities all too well.

The film is competently made in convincing locations, and the actors immerse themselves in their appointed roles. There is even some CGI which is up to a passable standard. Considering the films obvious paucity of resources you have to admire the job the crew have done. Lovers of action films will be disappointed, although there are some brief scenes to liven things up. This is a film about the trials and tribulations of brave women during difficult times. The film only has a running time of one and a half hours which does not give time to explore relationships too deeply, in the way that "Tenko" was able to do. But given the running time this is excusable. Aren't I nice! Perhaps my only real criticism is that it did not engage me as much as it might have done. Perhaps this is the old schoolboy in me yearning for some blood and guts action. But all said and done it is a good enough film and worth a watch. Perhaps most poignant of all is a closing scene where you get to see the elderly Sister Berenice Twohill and retired nurse Lorna Whyte whose enduring friendship was at the heart of this film.
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on 31 October 2014
Based on the true story of 2 women who met during WW2, one a Nun, the other a Nurse, both working in a Mission Hospiital, invaded by the Japanese Army.
Australian women and troops.
Most moving at the end of the film, that the two women have remained friends throughout their lives, the camera shows them meeting up and talking together.
The context has made me want to watch it again straight away.
Inspiring, and great respect for our parents and grandparents generation.
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on 25 October 2012
I applaud this film with absolute intensity ,I wont go into the story as other reviewers have already applied this , all I can say is the acting and screenplay is brilliant ,a watch and watch again film that will never be forgotten ,this is up there with all movies of this type as top class entertainment ,I would not ponder about buying this ,if these movies are your thing ,then 'BUY! ,I promise you wont regret it. ENJOY!. Kind regards Barry.
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on 22 August 2013
This film capture the atmosphere and feeling of the time so well because they actually used the ladies diaries and spoke to them in person, as well as other at the camp.

Ridiculously cheap for the quality of the film, a must have for any wartime movie fan.
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on 11 November 2013
This is an excellent example of human courage and resilience in the face terrible deprivation and cruelty. The fact that it is a true story adds to the amazing testimony of friendship and the best facets of the human race
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on 18 April 2013
Really enjoyed this dvd based on a true story this made it even more enjoyable. Very brave women to live through what they did and come out the other side able to meet up again with each other and to tell their story.
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