Wednesday, June 08, 2011

City of Life and Death

This movie is like a punch to the gut. But I can't possibly recommend this any higher. If you can handle intense war type films, see this.

It is about the 1937 Japanese invasion and brutal occupation of Nanking, China. I had seen the documentary a few years about the subject so I knew the basic facts. But it is one thing to hear about what happened and another quite different thing to see it unfold. And it is unbelievably horrifying.

This kind of reminded me of Schindler's List but better. I kept thinking that it couldn't get more bleak but somehow the director Lu Chuan found a way to end it on somewhat of a hopeful note. Like Schindler's List, there is a person of influence who tries his best to save as many people as possible from certain rape and slaughter. It is fascinating that the person in question in this case was a Nazi official.

This is a movie that will be etched in my memory for years to come and a must see for anyone remotely interested in the subject. It is also the second film I've seen by Lu Chuan. The first one Mountain Patrol: Kekexili, was one of my favorite films of 2006.

Directed by Lu Chuan
2009, U.S. Release: 2011
Film Forum