Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle Review By Jamie M MacDonald

Onoda; 10,000 Nights in the Jungle does deserve the attention and awards it has been getting all over the world.

1944: In Japan 22 year old Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda (Yuya Endo) has washed out of officers training to be the pilot that he has always dreamed of, Hiroo is afraid of heights, given a second chance to prove himself worthy as a Japanese soldier; he fails at being a kamikaze pilot as well. Distraught, he will now do anything to try and redeem himself to his country and fellow soldiers. Enter Major Taniguchi Yoshima (Issey Ogatta) who gives him his shot at redemption, with a new mission and a completely different code. He does not have permission to die, suicide is not an option he must stay alive at all costs, the mission is more important. The Major`s philosophy, and the major himself has a profound influence on Onoda. Sent to Lubang a small island in the Philippines where the Americans are about to land. Onoda enlists three trusted soldiers to help him wage his guerrilla war until the Japanese troops return. The Empire soon surrenders, by this time it is too late and his mission has consumed Onoda. He will wage his war for a further thirty years – 10,000 nights in total in the jungle.

Onoda is a sweeping epic and mass production from France, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Cambodia that just oozes big production all over it. You are drawn in and captivated by Yuya Endo performance as Onoda he carries the weight of the film on his shoulders alone. First, you think no one can live in denial for that length of time, surely to goodness, not, but when we get the flash backs of his training you begin to understand why he totally believes that Japan has not surrendered and the war is still going on. The film does not feel it`s length and I think balances nicely the flashbacks to what it going on now. My favourite scene, the most stand out to me, is one when the younger of the soldiers has enough and surrenders the villagers Aksatsu played by Kai Inowaki. A while later Aksatsu and Onoda`s own brother, shout over the loud speaker for him to hear – the war is over, come down lay down your gun. Onoda refuses but he does get the magazines, newspapers and radio that they leave for him. Watching him convince himself that none of the articles or the radio broadcasts is real, it is so sad to see a broken man not excepting the truth his mind is only capable of seeing his mission. A very powerful scene that is so captivating to watch, you feel angry and sad for him all at the same time. My other favourite scenes are those between Onoda and the Major, whether at the start or near the end of the film. You literally see how much the Major gets into Onoda`s head through both actors performances, so wonderful to watch such great acting.

Written by Vincent Poymiro with Arthur Harari who also directed the film Onoda is a well-crafted epic that does not feel it`s length. Due to the wonderful acting from all the cast plus the amazing cinematography from Tom Harari the island is beautiful and watching Onoda`s yearly cycle is most captivated I`ve been watching an two hour plus film for a very long. I also feel that I must mention the film`s score. It really does add a haunting feel to the film where it is needed then uplifting at times as we see the ups and downs of Onoda`s journey unfold. Both tragic and really makes you angry at times watching it – Onoda; 10,000 Nights in the Jungle does deserve the attention and awards it has been getting all over the world.

4 / 5 stars     

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