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"Nanking" tells the story of the rape of Nanking, one of the most tragic events in history. In 1937, the invading Japanese army murdered over 200,000 and raped tens of thousands of Chinese. In the midst of the horror, a small group of Western expatriates banded together to save 250,000 -- an act of extraordinary heroism. Bringing an event little-known outside of Asia to a global audience, "Nanking" shows the tremendous impact individuals can make on the course of history. It is a gripping account of light in the darkest of times. Written by
How do you write about a documentary on an atrocity committed during the darkest days of modern history? You feel grief, and anger, and downright bewilderment. To cast these feelings aside and think about the film on it's own is almost impossible. Can you talk about the structure of the film, whether it's well-paced, or the performances commendable? The subject itself almost consumes all of your thought, you wonder how it could ever have happened, and more important, if it is ever possible that you can ever commit such an act of brutality.
Having actors perform the roles of the foreigners who are deemed saviours of the Chinese is perhaps a bad move on the filmmakers' part. Even though they make no attempt to hide the fact that it is a performance, or rather, actors at a staged table-reading, it stands in too stark a contrast to the interviews with the Chinese survivors and Japanese soldiers. In particular, 2 Japanese soldiers, now in their twilight years, seem to be filmed at a distance, maybe even unknowing of the fact that they are being recorded. They talk about the killings and rapings impassively, even with a little hint of smugness. It ironically holds a mirror to the actors' readings of characters. Do they hate the Japanese? No, as the actress representing Minnie Vautrin said. So filled with kindness are they that it's almost as unbelievable as the monstrosity of the Rape of Nanking.
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