The Horror Of War!
Brilliant movies are sometimes still difficult to watch – they are so powerful – so raw and honest, that they can be gut-wrenching…
If you are up for a challenging, brutal look at one of the 20th century’s worst atrocities, then I urge you to give “The City Of Life And Death” a try. It is, pure and simple, a brilliant movie making achievement.
This Chinese film was made in 2009, and it is now on DVD on Amazon – if you want to see challenging, inspiring work, this is it.
Check out the trailer:
In late 1937, the Japanese army conquered Nanking, the then capital of China, and in the months that followed their occupying force adopted a systemic policy of rape and murder: an estimated 300,000 were killed and as many as 80,000 Chinese women and girls were raped.
Writer-director Lu Chuan tells the story of this massacre in black and white imagery, giving it a documentary feel.
“Life and Death” is broken into two sections. The first shows the fall of Nanking. The Chinese army, cursed with horrible equipment and worse leaders, fights valiantly but is doomed. The Japanese move in and soon the Chinese trample each other in flight. These early scenes recall “Saving Private Ryan” in their gritty realism.
Once the Japanese have secured Nanking, they abandon humanity. Waves of Chinese, soldiers and civilians, adults and children, are murdered – the Rape Of Nanking has been recorded before, but never in such honesty and gut-wrenching realism…
“Life and Death” is not a subtle film. Director Lu Chuan creates scenes of noble resistance in the face of unspeakable horror. It’s no surprise that thousands of Chinese protested at the sympathetic portrayal of a single Japanese soldier.
Upon its release in China, it attracted some criticism for its sympathetic portrayal of the Japanese soldier Kadokawa. Director Chuan Lu received online death threats to both himself and his family on the strength of this.
Just as “Schindler’s List” is a devastating film to watch – it is also an important historical reminder of the horrors of war…”The City Of Life And Death” is as well…and a very political film as well…
Early in its release, online criticism was so vehement that the film was nearly pulled from theaters, only to be saved by the personal support from Li Changchun, a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China.
This is a powerful film that deserves to be seen, so that horrific events like this are never forgotten…