After Pearl Harbor, European and American women and children try to escape ahead of the invading Japanese. When their evacuation ship is sunk, the women make their way to the coast of Sumatra where they are captured and imprisoned by the Japanese. Two women with musical training (Glenn Close and Pauline Collins) start a voice orchestra and involve other prisoners (including Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Ehle, and Julianna Margulies) in their plan. The prisoners, including Dutch, English, Australian, and American women, squabble but also make friendships across cultural and class lines.
This is a moving film and sometimes hard to watch as many characters we have come to know take the final trip down “Paradise Road,” the name the women have given to death. And the voice orchestra really did exist (check out Song of Survival by Helen Colijn).
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