Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle - Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle( Blu Ray) [Third Widow Films - 2022]
Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle is a 2021 adventure/ war film from French actor/ writer/ director Arthur Harari. Onoda is only his second feature-length release, following on from his debut feature, Dark Diamond in 2016 as well as a handful of short films back in his native France, however, Onoda has thus far been well received by fans and critics alike, yet remains a little off the radar of the vast majority of cinema fans.
Onoda tells the story of Japanese soldier Hiro Onoda, played as a young man by Yûya Endô (The Fighter Pilot, Nirvana Island: The Last 47 Days and Phantom Limb) and as an old man by Kani Tsuda (Ju-On, The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi and Shin Godzilla). As World War II draws to its conclusion Hiroo Onoda, dissatisfied with the outcome decides to retreat into the Filipino jungle to hold out against Japan’s loss. As the title explains he managed to continue to hold out until 1974 when his former commanding officer had to travel to the Philippines to relieve him of his duties by order of Emperor Shōwa. The film tells a fairly intricate tale of one man’s stand in the face of adversity and what it is that leads him to make the decisions he takes. The film looks at his social and cultural background as well as his sense of honour, in order to unpick the various factors that explain his decision to remain at his post for 29 years after the war ended.
At two hours and forty-five minutes, Onoda is very long. I’m not sure it would work so well if condensed down to a ninety-minute film, but perhaps a few trims here and there would help speed up the pacing and bring it in around twenty minutes shorter. This is however just a minor gripe as the film itself is well executed with some beautiful cinematography by Tom Harari (Les Voeux, The Lion Sleeps Tonight and Sophia Antipolis). The supporting cast is all good, particularly Yûya Matsuura (Alice in Borderland, RoboGeisha and Kamen Rider Revice) who plays the young Kinshichi Kozuka.
Overall, I think Onora is a solid film that is fairly well executed. However, it is very slow in places, although, at the end of the day the slow segments of the film (particularly the opening hour or so) are crucial when it comes to telling the story, and it’s easy to see how they reward the viewer who manages to stick with the film. The Third Window Films blu ray features a few bonus materials, an interview with director Arthur Harari, his assistant, Benjamin Papin, and his DOP and brother, Tom Harari, as well as a separate interview with actor Kanjo Tsuda and the obligatory trailer. An interesting but somewhat flawed film that will appeal to those who don’t mind long convoluted plotlines and a great deal of exposition.