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Hampshire documentary maker relaunches bid to get documentary screened in Britain
IT is one of the most powerful examples of forgiveness triumphing over evil.
The emotional reconciliation of a British Army prisoner of war with his Japanese torturer inspired a blockbuster Hollywood film.
Now a Hampshire documentary-maker who filmed the dramatic meeting has re-launched his two-decade-long battle for his first-hand story to be aired by British television.
Mike Finlason this week re-released his documentary Enemy, My Friend which documents the two men’s actual encounter in 1991.
It captures the climax of Army veteran Eric Lomax’s 50-year hunt to track down former Japanese soldier Takashi Nagase, who cruelly tortured him in Thailand during the Second World War.
Colin Firth as Eric Lomax in The Railway Man
Nagase escaped prosecution from his crimes, while Eric suffered years of mental torment from his treatment.
They met on the notorious River Kwai Bridge – which was itself immortalised in a feature film.
British terrestrial television programmes refused to air it at the time, despite it being shown in Europe and winning an award.
But the dramatised film The Railway Man starring Hampshire-born actor Colin Firth, received critical acclaim when it hit the silver screen earlier this year.
Now Mr Finlason, from Fareham, has released an updated version of his documentary which he is dubbing The Real Railway Man.
The 70-year-old said: “This is a fantastic insight into humanity, and I am still confused why it was never shown.
“The story has a huge relevance to so many wars that are happening now in the world.
“It was one of the most powerful things I have shot in my career and something I couldn’t let go.”
“It is something that should be shown.”
Mr Finlason met Eric after shooting a previous documentary about the impact of torture.
Television stations refused to fund the project and he had to spend £38,000 getting there and shooting it himself.
Britain’s Second World War Asian campaigns have long been overlooked, with troops fighting in Burma dubbed “the ‘Forgotten Army”.
His original documentary was shown in Denmark, Sweden and South Africa and in Australia this year after the Hollywood film was released.
His re-release – which sold 42 copies in its first 30 minutes – includes extra footage explaining how Eric went on to write his autobiography The Railway Man in 1995.
It also shows previously unseen footage of Nagase criticising the Japanese Emperor, which was omitted from the earlier film until after his death for his safety.
Both veterans kept in contact with each other until Nagase died in 2011 and Mr Lomax a year later soon after meeting Colin Firth and other actors.
See therealrailwayman.com to order a copy.
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