Eventually, they get enough women to participate, teaching all of them their parts whenever they get an uninterrupted moment to practice. Finally, on their 2nd anniversary in the camp, they put on a concert for all the prisoners. It's the first time the entire orchestra has been assembled in the same place, making it a powerful experience for all when they hear the extraordinary music coming from their lips. Even the guards, who are supposed to stop them, are enchanted by their performance. It is the first moment of peace and beauty these woman have enjoyed in a long time.
It doesn't last. The younger and prettier women are herded up and taken to the home of the local higher ups and given the choice to become a kept woman with all the amenities good food, clean sheets, hot water or return to the camp. It's an offer a few of them are unable to refuse. Once returned, tragedy and death begin to take hold of the women. Adrienne is placed in solitary confinement and almost put to death when she strikes and humiliates a guard who was planning on raping her; Susan (Blanchett), a young Australian nurse, is tortured and almost killed after refusing to repeat a derogatory remark she made while bowing to the Japanese flag; and Rosemary (Ehle) suffers a broken heart and slips into the arms of death after she is momentarily reunited with her husband only to realize days later that she will never see him alive again.
The situation gets even worse when they are moved to a camp even more remote in the interior of Sumatra. The train ride and deteriorated conditions prove too much for a large number of the woman. However, even though Captain Tanaka (Egi) has broken their hearts and bodies, he cannot destroy their spirit. When Margaret finally succumbs to death, the rest of the prisoners, voices silenced by exhaustion and starvation, pick up rocks and clap their hands, creating music to celebrate the passing of their dear friend. The songs are what keep them sane and give them strength in the midst of unending hardship. They are the only comfort they have in this wretched place.
PARADISE ROAD is a powerful piece of filmmaking you won't soon forget. The entire cast gives beautiful, heartbreaking performances. These women were merely ordinary, every day people struggling to survive a horrifying situation. The cast made them more than just faceless prisoners, but unique and fallible human beings. What's even more amazing is that these women were able to create such wonderful music, which even under the best of conditions is not an easy thing to do. The scene of their first performance is stunning in its complexity and beauty. This sequence is the turning point of the film. They realize if they can create something as wonderful as this, they can do anything - even survive. You may not want to watch another film about the horrors and triumphs of WWII, but this is a film you definitely shouldn't miss.