King Rat [DVD] 
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Oscar(r)- nominee George Segal (1967, Best Supporting Actor, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf) became astar with his performance in this epic WWII drama based on the best-selling novel by Shogun author James Clavell. The movie chronicles the scams of a streetwise GI held in a Japanese prison camp. Under the harrowing camp conditions, he rises to a position of power over his military and social superiors, manipulating those around him and controlling the prison's black market. KING RAT is a powerful exploration of one man's struggle to survive and flourish against all odds. It was nominated for two 1965 Academy Awards(r) (Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography).
High on the list of best POW movies, King Rat bears some comparison to that compound over by the River Kwai... but this is an entirely more cynical exercise. In a Japanese prison camp, a brash American corporal (George Segal) runs a variety of money-making operations, much to the amazement of a young British officer (James Fox). Director Bryan Forbes, who adapted James Clavell's novel, follows different POWs through various strands of plot, each episode seemingly designed to highlight the dog-eat-dog nature of men held in close confinement. (In one pointedly black-comic sequence, it becomes man-eat-dog.) This was one of Segal's breakthrough roles, and his modern style fits the movie's anti-heroic, '60s approach. It was Oscar®-nominated for art direction and cinematography, which may sound odd for such a bleakly confined location, but the lucid starkness of the camp justifies the nods. The John Barry score, while apt, is similarly stark. --Robert Horton
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Top Customer Reviews
Even though there are many characters involved in the story, it clearly focuses on two of them, and their relationship could almost serve as a study in sociology. One is an American, the King, who is a corporal that has the ability to facilitate commerce, which is prohibited by camp rules, and therefore makes a very nice living, especially when compared with everyone else. The other one is Peter Marlowe, a British Lieutenant, whose personality and moral codes clearly contrast with the King's. When they meet, this marks the start of an unusual friendship that will test Marlowe's character and convictions, since he will have to decide between compromising his morals in return for better living conditions for him and his friends, and sticking to his guns and keep on living miserably.
The visual representation of the story in terms of the appearance of the prisoners and the living environment certainly coincides with what I pictured when I was reading the book, and the fact that it is filmed in black and white helps align the mood. The performances of the cast are all at a high level, and you will see many actors here that you know from other later productions.Read more ›
Secondly, if the crucifixion scene in the film To End all Wars jarred, the anti-God rant in King Rat also jarred. What is clear from war memoirs is that some men lost their faith and some had their faith strengthened. There simply wasn't enough religious content in the film King Rat to be true to what happened in the main camps where men had time on their hands. By all accounts there were some well attended religious services.
Thirdly, the amount of food consumed towards the end of the film is far too much. The amount would at least make the men ill and, in some cases, even kill them.
I saw the dvd version of the film recently and
was greatly impressed by this taut and gritty
black & white film written and directed by
Brian Forbes based on James Clavell's acclaimed novel.
David Thompson, a US reviewer claimed that
this film was better WWII prison film than
"Bridge on the River Kwai" which I tend to agree
to a certain degree.
"Kwai" is an epic, of prisoners building a bridge
under extreme hardship which affected men's judgement.
"King Rat" on the other hand is a more real, compact
film which exposes human nature and vulnerability
in a wider scope and depth under extreme conditions.
This is an all-time classic war time prison film.
This is one of the best and most compelling war films I have ever seen, with a darker, more realistic view on the Second World War and people's mercenary nature.
Although the film is incredible, you absolutely MUST read the James Clavell novel it is based on, one of the best books I've ever read.
A must, in both mediums!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought for my husband. He thoroughly enjoyed it. He said it was an excellent film.Published 2 months ago by Carol Wordley
if you are interested in history regarding world war11
you should like this one