Whenever I see this film, I’m reminded of the stories my parents tell me about their experiences as children during World War II. My grandfather on my father’s side was an intelligence officer for the United States Army who disappeared during the war, never to be seen again. My grandfather on my mother’s side was punished by the enemy for holding a position in government, their family home taken over for the duration of the war to serve as an office and prison for the other side.
While I heard many stories about the brutality and horrors of life and death during the Japanese occupation, my mother’s family was fortunate that the commandant who took charge of their home was a kind man who did nothing to hurt her or her family and who made certain his soldiers didn’t either during the three years they lived there.
Three Came Home tells the story of a woman interred in a camp in Borneo with her young son and the relationship she shared with the Japanese Commandant who was in charge of the camp.
Claudette Colbert and Sessue Hayakawa who gave superb performances in their roles co-star with Patric Knowles and Mark Keuning. Child actor Mark Keuning who made only one other film made quite an impression in his role as Ms. Colbert’s young son.
This film gave me a rare look at what my parents might have experienced during those years. My mother tells me that twenty-five years after the occupation, American soldiers who liberated their town came back to the house to see my grandmother and the rest of our family. They never forgot, neither have we.