POW Camps – 11 Brutal Dramas

Last updated on the 28 March 2024 by Maeve

POW Camps Drama

Prisoner of war camps were a harsh and brutal reality for many people during World War II and other conflicts. These dramas can give us a better understanding of the experiences of those who were imprisoned and the resilience of the human spirit.

We have included “Tenko” and “Empire of the Sun” which featured internment camps.

 

Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (1983)

POW Camps - Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (1983)
POW camps

 

During World War II, the defiant British officer Major Jack Celliers arrives at a Japanese POW camp, where he clashes with the rigid and honour-obsessed Captain Yonoi, the camp’s commander. Amidst the brutal conditions, Lieutenant Colonel John Lawrence, an interpreter, traverses the cultural divide between the prisoners and the guards, seeking common ground and understanding in the midst of a conflict that tests the limits of human morality and compassion.

Top cast: David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Takeshi Kitano, Jack Thompson, Johnny Ohkura, Alistair Browning, James Malcolm and Chris Broun.

 

King Rat (1965)

King Rat (1965)
POW camps

 

Amidst the squalor of a Japanese POW camp, the cunning American Corporal King thrives through his black market machinations, contrasting sharply with the struggling British and Australian inmates. When he enlists the refined British officer, Flight Lieutenant Marlowe, as a translator, their alliance deepens, revealing the complexities of survival and the depths of human resilience in the face of adversity.

Top cast: George Segal, James Fox, Tom Courtenay, Patrick O’Neal, James Donald, John Mills, Denholm Elliott, Leonard Rossiter and Joe Turkel.

 

The Great Escape (1963)

The Great Escape (1963)
POW camps

 

In the heart of Nazi Germany, a group of determined Allied POWs plan a daring escape from the notorious Stalag Luft III. Under the leadership of the resourceful Roger “Big X” Bartlett, they meticulously construct a network of tunnels, painstakingly digging beneath the watchful eyes of their captors. On the night of the breakout, over 200 prisoners emerge into the darkness, however, their escape triggers a massive manhunt.

Top cast: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Donald, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, Hannes Messemer, David McCallum, Gordon Jackson and John Leyton.

 

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on the River Kwai Alec Guinness
POW camps

 

In the heart of World War II, British POWs under the ruthless command of Japanese Colonel Saito are forced to construct a strategic railway bridge across the River Kwai. Colonel Nicholson, a proud and stoic soldier, reluctantly assumes leadership of the project, but his obsession with the bridge’s perfection blurs the lines between duty and captivity, leading to a clash between his British pride and the harsh realities of war.

Top cast: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa, James Donald, Geoffrey Horne, André Morell, Peter Williams.

 

Danger Within (1959)

Danger Within (1959)
POW camps

 

In a tense Italian prisoner of war camp during World War II, a group of British soldiers seeks to escape under the watchful eye of the sadistic Capitano Benucci. However, their plans are repeatedly thwarted by a mysterious traitor within their ranks. As the threat of the camp being handed over to the Nazis looms, tensions rise and the race to uncover the informer and execute their escape plan intensifies.

Top cast: Richard Todd, Bernard Lee, Michael Wilding, Peter Arne, Richard Attenborough, Andrew Faulds, Donald Houston, William Franklin and Vincent Ball.

 

The Colditz Story (1955)

The Colditz Story (1955)
POW camps

 

During World War II, a group of Allied prisoners of war find themselves held in the supposedly escape-proof Colditz Castle. Despite the formidable security, these resilient individuals embark on a series of daring escapes, employing ingenuity, resourcefulness, and unwavering determination to evade capture and reclaim their freedom.

Top cast: John Mills, Eric Portman, Frederick Valk, Denis Shaw, Lionel Jeffries, Christopher Rhodes, Richard Watts, Ian Carmichael, Bryan Forbes and Anton Diffring.

 

Empire of the Sun (1987)

Empire of the Sun (1987)
POW camps

 

During the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in World War II, young Jamie Graham, a privileged British boy, finds himself separated from his parents and thrust into a harsh world of internment camps and aerial bombings. As he faces this treacherous landscape, he forms an unlikely bond with an American sailor named Basie, finding strength and resilience in their shared struggles against the backdrop of war and displacement.

Top cast: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers, Joe Pantoliano, Leslie Phillips, Masatō Ibu, Emily Richard.

 

The Wooden Horse (1950)

The Wooden Horse (1950)
POW camps

 

In the confines of the German prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III, a group of determined British officers devise an ingenious plan to escape. Inspired by the Trojan Horse legend, they construct a large vaulting horse, concealing a tunnel beneath it. Under the cover of daily exercises, they painstakingly dig their way to freedom, risking exposure and the harsh consequences that await if their daring feat is discovered.

Top cast: Leo Genn, David Tomlinson, Anthony Steel, David Greene, Peter Burton, Patrick Waddington, Michael Goodliffe, Anthony Dawson and Bryan Forbes.

 

Tenko (1981)

Tenko cast
POW camps

 

In the heart of World War II, as Japanese forces sweep through Singapore, a group of British and Dutch women find themselves thrust into the harsh realities of an internment camp. Amidst the deprivation and brutality, they forge bonds of friendship, resilience, and resistance, their lives forever marked by the experience of wartime captivity.

Top cast: Ann Bell, Claire Oberman, Stephanie Cole, Elizabeth Chambers, Emily Bolton, Veronica Roberts, Patricia Lawrence, Jean Anderson, Stephanie Beacham, Takashi Kawahara and Burt Kwouk.

 

To End All Wars (2001)

To End All Wars (2001)
POW camps

 

Amidst the brutality of a Japanese POW camp during World War II, Captain Ernest Gordon, an officer with a strong Christian faith, strives to maintain his humanity and compassion while his fellow prisoners grapple with the harsh realities of captivity. As they endure physical and psychological torture, Gordon’s unwavering belief in forgiveness and reconciliation stands as a testament to the power of the human spirit.

Top cast: Ciarán McMenamin, Robert Carlyle, Kiefer Sutherland Mark Strong, Yugo Saso, Sakae Kimura, James Cosmo, Masayuki Yui, John Gregg and Pip Torrens.

 

Albert, R.N. (1953)

Albert, R.N. (1953)
POW camps

 

In a German prisoner of war camp during World War II, a group of British naval officers devise a daring plan to escape using a dummy prisoner named Albert. When an informer is suspected among the prisoners, the dummy becomes a crucial tool to deceive the guards and facilitate the escape attempts.

Top cast: Anthony Steel, Jack Warner, Robert Beatty, Anton Differing, William Sylvester, Eddie Byrne, Guy Middleton, Paul Carpenter and Michael Balfour.

 

POW camps @ Wikipedia

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