In this engrossing survival thriller set during the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1942, a stranded Australian airman and a Chinese resistance fighter band together to fight their way out of a forbidding jungle wilderness.
Singapore, February 9, 1942. The Japanese invasion is underway. Jim (Khan Chittenden), an Australian airman, wakes up dangling from a tree by his parachute strings, somewhere in the middle of a vast wilderness overrun by hostile forces. Jim must fend for himself — until he literally runs into a Singapore-Chinese resistance fighter, Seng (Mo Tzu-Yi), who has also been injured and is also lost. The men realize that their only hope of surviving lies with each other.
Aaron Wilson's Canopy is an extraordinary cinematic experience. There is no exposition, no politics, no conventional character development. Just these two men, this jungle, and this desperate struggle to make it through, resulting in a film that is moment-by-moment enthralling, acutely attuned to the natural world, and never without desperate forward movement.
Given that Jim and his new ally share
no common language, the film is nearly
wordless — although it is anything but
silent. The fecund jungle is alive with the
drone of insects and the rattle and caw of
birds. Bombers drop their payloads into
the distant bush. Jim's boots slap through
the muck as he traipses along, panting, and
without direction. There are occasional
bursts of radio music. Every now and then,
a brooding ambient score rises up out of
this bed of natural sound. So carefully rendered
are the sounds and visions of Canopy
that the film's overall effect is one of total
immersion. Rarely do we find a feature
debut that boasts such control.