Onoda: 10,000 nights in the jungle


The film describes the 30 years that the Japanese soldier Hirō Onoda spent on the Philippine island of Lubang even after the end of the war because he was waiting for an order from above. For almost 3 hours the French-Japanese co-production shows Onoda following an order from 1944 in an unspectacular way, contrary to what the trailer might suggest.
"Presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021, the drama shows how military drill deforms the soldiers' consciousness: there is always war in their mind. In our current situation (2023), this haunting message is once again frighteningly topical."

Movie Data

Title: Onoda: 10,000 nights in the jungle
Language: Japanese, French
Published: 2022
Length: 167 minutes

Director: Arthur Harari
Script: Arthur Harari, Bernard Cendron, Vincent Poymiro

Yūya Endō: young Hirō Onoda
Kanji Tsuda: old Hirō Onoda
Yūya Matsuura: young Kinshichi Kozuka
Tetsuya Chiba: old Kinshichi Kozuka
Shinsuke Kato: Shōichi Shimada
Kai Inowaki: Yūichi Akatsu
Issei Ogata: Major Yoshimi Taniguchi
Taiga Nakano: Norio Suzuki - The Tourist
Nobuhiro Suwa: Tanejirō Onoda - Onoda's Father
Mutsuo Yoshioka: Captain Hayakawa
Tomomitsu Adachi: Governor-General Shigenori Kuroda
Kyūsaku Shimada: Lieutenant Suehiro
Angeli Bayani: Iniez


Japan during the Second World War: Because of his fear of heights, Hirou Onoda is barred from a career as a pilot in the Air Force. He rejects the alternative of dying for his country as a kamikaze pilot. Instead, he lets Major Yoshimi Taniguchi recruit him for his elite squad.
In 1944 Onoda, meanwhile with the rank of lieutenant, reaches the island of Lubang in the Philippines. There he is stationed as an outpost in the resistance against the US Army. When the enemy suddenly attacks, Onoda and the remaining men are forced to retreat into the mountains. The squad of soldiers decimates itself through injury, death and desertion. In the end, three men remain with Onoda, who together try to keep up the resistance. Not only are the constantly dwindling supplies and the rainy season a problem, but also the resistance of the local population - dissatisfaction is spreading. It also seems like the Americans aren't even on the island anymore... Who is actually still being fought here?
As the years go by, neither the Japanese government nor his family nor newspapers and radio broadcasts can stop Onoda from his mission: to defend the island to the last man. In September 1974, after 30 years, a young man on Lubang seeks dialogue with the hermit. Can he convince Onoda to complete his mission?
from arte.tv 2023


In the middle of the wilderness of a deserted island, an old man roams with his rifle at the ready and a green camouflage on his back. In a meadow, the oddball lays down two acacia blossoms, while we hear an old Japanese folk song.
The year is 1974. And Lieutenant Hirō Onoda believes that World War II is still ongoing, that his country is still fighting the Americans. This is how the gripping drama "Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle" begins, which will be shown on Arte this Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. and will be available in the media library until August 29, 2023.
In two and a half hours that is never boring, director Arthur Harari, born in Paris in 1981, tells the incredible but factual story of a man who survives for 30 years on a tropical island in the jungle and simply does not want to believe that the war is long over.
In its final phase in 1944, the young Japanese lieutenant Onoda was actually supposed to be used as a pilot, perhaps even as a kamikaze pilot. But his fear of heights ruins the plan. Instead, Onoda is recruited into an elite force by an ambitious major. “Your body is the fatherland”, this martial motto is injected into him by his superior and he trains Onoda in the art of “secret warfare”.
When the lieutenant was supposed to organize resistance against the Americans on the Philippine island of Lubang in 1944, the war was almost lost for the Japanese. Onoda retreats into the mountains with three followers to attack the enemy as a mobile guerrilla unit. But he never shows up, the war is over. Just not in the mind of Onoda.
This unusually exciting film, which at times comes across as a chamber play, vividly sketches the psychogram of a fighter who is waging his own private campaign. Onoda proves to be a caring superior who cares about the well-being of his people. But there are fewer and fewer: After years in the jungle, only his deputy Kozuka remains loyal to him. They vegetate on the island like two Robinsons, go swimming in the sea for the first time in years, finally own a small radio and are fascinated by the reports of the moon landing in 1969.
In addition to these moments, there are also scenes of violence and paranoia: the deafening jungle, the loneliness and the week-long monsoon rain give birth to monsters. Arthur Hirara's drama, presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021, vividly shows how military drill deforms the consciousness of soldiers and atrophies every human emotion: there is always war in the head. In our current situation, this haunting message is once again frighteningly topical.
from dpa.infocom 2023

Hirō Onoda (March 19, 1922 in Kainan – January 16, 2014 in Tokyo) in the Wikipedia.