The Holdout by Nick Padmore | Script Revolution

The Holdout

Japanese WWII soldier Hiroo Onoda fights to keep control of an island until 29 years after the war ends. Based on a true story.



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'No Surrender' by Hiroo Onoda

Hiroo Onoda has one goal in life: complete the mission. It's a lesson that's been drummed into him both by his domineering mother, and by the officers at his military school.

So when Major Taniguchi sends him to the island of Lubang in the Philippines in 1944, he's clear on what he needs to do: destroy the air strip and the pier. Stop the Americans from landing. Hold the island.

Taniguchi warns him that the assignment could take months, even years. But promises that he'll be back to get Onoda home when the mission's done.

But the unit Onoda joins is poorly led, and dubious of his guerrilla tactics. They're die-gloriously-in-battle types, with no time for sneaking around.

Onoda makes one ally, Private Kozuka, but plenty of enemies too. And though he warns his superior officer that an apparent American invasion is a trick, his words go unheeded.

The island is lost. Only Onoda, Kozuka, a gruff corporal called Shimada and a cowardly private called Akatsu remain.

With the Americans spreading across Lubang, Onoda convinces his little unit that they still have a part to play. So they begin a campaign of chaos - setting fire to crops, stealing from the locals, scavenging weapons and food.

But while they carry on their campaign, the Americans have already left. In fact, before long the entire war's ended.  

The Japanese authorities try everything they can to convince their soldiers to come out of hiding. They drop leaflets, send search parties, even enlist the soldiers' families.

But Onoda's trained in deception, and naturally suspicious. He discards each and every attempt as propaganda, and Kozuka, Shimada and Akatsu bow to his better judgement.

Their personal war goes on into the 50s, then the 60s, then the 70s. And while the world around them gradually modernises, Onoda and his unit are left behind. Relics of a lost decade, a lost generation.

In the end Onoda is discovered, all alone, by a tourist called Suzuki who'd heard the story of the famous 'holdout' and set out to find him. But the only person Onoda will take orders from is his commanding officer, Major Taniguchi, now a bookseller.

The man who, 29 years earlier, had promised he would return for Onoda.

So the Japanese authorities fly Taniguchi out to Lubang to keep his promise. To tell Onoda that, at long last, his mission is complete.

Submitted: August 31, 2020
Last Updated: December 8, 2021

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The Writer: Nick Padmore

I write screenplays. Features, mostly, but also TV pilots and shorts. Sunbeam Quarterfinalist, Page Awards 2020 Semifinalist, Scriptapalooza 2020 Semifinalist, Table Read My Screenplay 2021 Semifinalist, ISA Drama Genre Busting Screenplay Competition 2021 Parallel Runner-up, Scriptapalooza 2021 Second Rounder, Austin Film Festival Script Competition 2021 Quarterfinalist, Emerging Screenwriters Genre Competition 2021 The Holdout Quarterfinalist, Page Awards 2021 Quarterfinalist, Bluecat Screenplay Competition 2021 Quarterfinalist, Emerging Screenwriters Genre Competition 2021 The Infantorium Quarterfinalist, Page Awards 2021 Quarterfinalist, Creative Screenwriting Unique Voices 2021 Finalist... Go to bio

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