Record-breaking Railway Man

Stills from 'The Railway Man' starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman as Eric and Patti Lomax

Stills from 'The Railway Man' starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman as Eric and Patti Lomax

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A film chronicling the life of the late Eric Lomax, the former Berwick resident, has smashed box office records at his home town cinema.

The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, has been seen by more than 4,000 cinemagoers - almost double the previous record for a film at The Maltings.

It tells the harrowing and inspirational tale of a young soldier brutally tortured by the Japanese during World War Two and the remarkable reconcilliation he had years later with his interrogator.

Andy Paterson, producer and co-screenwriter, said: “The last time I saw Eric was at Tweedmouth House, a few weeks after we finished filming. I showed him some stills from the film and he was fascinated but didn’t want to see too much.

“‘It would be a shame, after all this, to bring back the nightmares’, he said. ‘Are you happy with the film?’ I said that I was. He said ‘Oh that’s good. That’s very good.’ His trust in us, that we would do justice to his story, moved me beyond words.

“That our film would be witnessed and embraced by so many of the good people of Berwick, just a short leap across the river from the window where he spent his last days, would have meant the world to him. And that makes sense of the whole process for me.”

Eric’s widow, Patti, added: “Eric and I always believed that The Railway Man was not just about us, but belongs to everyone who had a relative out in the Far East.

“I am delighted to think that other people have agreed with this sentiment. Post-Traumatic Stress is a terrible thing and left untreated does not go away, it is as relevant today as back then in WW2.”

The last of 16 scheduled screenings took place last Thursday. However, due to overwhelming demand and an endless stream of daily enquiries at the box office, The Maltings has added two final screenings on April 30 at 1pm & 7.30pm.

That will bring the total number of screenings to 18 and a projected total number of tickets sold to well over 4,500.

Tamiko Mackie, marketing and communications manager at The Maltings, said: “The audience response to The Railway Man is unprecedented for The Maltings Theatre & Cinema.

“While some have been drawn to the film by a natural curiosity to see Berwick-upon-Tweed’s iconic vistas and landmarks on the big screen, there’s a tangible sense that the act of coming to see the film is a sort of pilgrimage or memorial - a chance for local people to come together to pay their respects to Eric Lomax and his incredible story of suffering, bravery and forgiveness.

“The Maltings team feels privileged for the small part its played in assisting the filmmakers and Patti Lomax in giving the film a proper homecoming and we couldn’t be more thrilled that the audience response has far surpassed all hopes and expectations.”

In addition, the exhibition presented by Berwick Visual Arts, “Tracking Forgiveness: A Photographic Journey of The Railway Man”, at the Granary Gallery, has seen record visitors - around 1,450 to date.

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