“Never the Same”
By Kathryn Chapman
World War II may seem far away, but the memories of those who lived through it are still vibrant. Jan Thompson, a 28-year broadcast veteran who has produced more than 300 television programs, has drawn upon the memories of participants in one of the most horrific episodes of that war to produce “Never the Same: The Prisoner of War Experience”. Her film depicts the experience of American POWs in WWII Japanese camps largely through their poems, songs, drawings and cartoons, many brought to life through animation. Starved and brutalized, the men meet horror with American ingenuity and gallows humor, all abundantly evident as survivors describe the daily struggle for survival reinforced by soul-saving fantasies, pranks, jokes, and even recipes.
The world premiere of this gripping movie will take place at the Gene Siskel Film Center on April 6th at 7:45 pm and April 7th at 5:30 pm. Jan’s own father lived through the experience documented by this film and she spent decades compiling the material (and writing the music) that make up the story. Narrated by Loretta Swit, actual diary entries made by the prisoners are brought to life by several Hollywood stars, including Ed Asner and Alec Baldwin. Director Jan Thompson and former POW Jim Collier, who appears in the film, will be present for audience discussion at both screenings. For more information, go to http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/neverthesame