Thursday, February 4, 2010

City of Life and Death / Nanjing!, Nanjing! (China, 2009)

City of Life and Death tells about the massacre of Nanking. the former capitakl city of China was in december in 1937 invaded by Japanese forces and in a few months (february 1938) they killed more than 200.000 chinese soldiers and civilians. It is called the massacre of Nanking because of the cuelties of the Japanese armies. Tens of thousands women were raped and children were murdered.

This horrible event still hurts the souls of the Chinese and that is why it is remarkable suddenly they seem to be a bit more open and show their wounds. The film is completely shot in black and white and this is the best way to capture this dark period. Performances are outstanding (though the foreign actors don't convince at all....)

When you don't know anything about it, the film can be a bit difficult to understand. Suddenly a German called 'John Rabe' appears and in the end almostevery chinese cries because he leaves the city. Why? Because John Rabe saved approximately 200.000 Chinese civilians by creating a safety zone. His diaries are published 20 or 30 years ago.

Are all Japanese monsters? In the eyes of the elder Chinese this is often the problem, but for the first time in history this films shows a kind of less sympathetic Japanese soldier who is having doubts about the killings. In the Chinese cinema's this was accompanied by applause...

City of Life and Death is a strong film about Nanking, which will weigh heavy on the heart, some scenes are horrific but it never turns into gore.