“Nanjing! Nanjing!”, also known as “City of Life and Death”, is a new Chinese film by director Lu Chuan depicting the battle of Nanjing during the Second Sino-Japanese War. This battle is commonly referred to as “The Rape of Nanking” or the “Nanking Massacre”.
City of Life and Death takes place in 1937, during the height of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Imperial Japanese Army has just captured the then-capital of the Republic of China, Nanjing. What followed was known as the Nanking Massacre, or the Rape of Nanking, a period of several weeks wherein tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed. The film tells the story of several figures, both historical and fictional, including a Chinese soldier, a schoolteacher, a Japanese soldier, a foreign missionary, and John Rabe, a Nazi businessman who would ultimately save thousands of Chinese civilians.
The past year, I’ve seen some really great movies coming from China with not only great cinematography but also great stories. This movie is one of them. I think everyone should try to watch it at least once. Especially if you’re like me and are trying to understand the complexity of China-Japan relations.
The Japanese occupation of China is still a hard topic for most Chinese people to speak about and it’s the source of a lot of hatred towards Japanese. I’ll be honest and say that I’m tired of hearing all the Japan-bashing from Chinese people though. Some of my Chinese friends even hate on Japanese people for something that happened over seventy years ago. They need another lesson in basic human-nature. Genocide and mass murder has happened and can happen anywhere in the world under the right conditions. So, to my Chinese friends, please stop demonizing a whole nation of people and move on for a better future.
Also Known As: "City of Life and Death" - International (English title)
Directed: Chuan Lu
Country: China/Hong Kong
Cast: Ye Liu, Yuanyuan Gao, Hideo Nakaizumi