"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.... See full summary »
Michael Moore's view on what happened to the United States after September 11; and how the Bush Administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Is American foreign policy dominated by the idea of military supremacy? Has the military become too important in American life? Jarecki's shrewd and intelligent polemic would seem to give an affirmative answer to each of these questions.
For three days in 1971, former US soldiers who were in Vietnam testify in Detroit about their war experiences. Nearly 30 speak, describing atrocities personally committed or witnessed, ... See full summary »
The Nazi propaganda mastermind behind Hitler speaks in first person as actor Kenneth Branagh reads pages of the diary kept by the chief of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, revealing the man's ... See full summary »
"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
This is a disturbing and fascinating film. It inter-cuts original newsreel film and film made by witnesses to the atrocity, face-to-camera reminiscence by some of the Chinese eyewitnesses, interviews (apparently made some years ago) with surviving Japanese soldiers who were involved in one part of the massacre, and a small cast of mostly American actors reading excerpts from diary entries, letters and other documents written by some of the 15 Europeans who tried so valiantly to maintain the "safe zone" in the old town of Nanking during the massacre.
As a history teacher, I have taught a little 20th century East Asian history. I knew of the Nanking massacre. I have read some of the documents used in the film and seen some of the still pictures. I hadn't seen any of the film before, though. It's very shocking stuff. That said, the most powerful and emotional moments of the film for me were the interviews. Especially the accounts of the old people, children at the time, who saw their family members killed or experienced rape.
Some of the comments I've read on the message boards here question whether this is a legitimate documentary. The Europeans (and some of the Chinese and one Japanese) are portrayed by actors. They do their job very well, but there is always a problem with dramatisation. How much can we trust the actors' interpretation of their lines? And how far has the editing gone? Then also, why choose just these people to represent the European community? Where were the Danish and British voices? Also, although they had tried to put themselves into character as prim missionary, grey businessman, reticent doctor, at least three of the actors were familiar faces to me, and in the beginning I found my thoughts wandering off the topic as I tried to identify them. (Mariel Hemingway, Jürgen Prochnow and Woody Harrelson.) Contrary to some of the voices on this message board, I don't think Nanking is anti-Japanese propaganda, or simply out to shock. I think the film makers are sincere when they say (through the words of their European witnesses) that the film does not set out to vilify the Japanese as a people. (Though I note that the Chinese witnesses uniformly refer to "Japanese devils" at least in the subtitling.) But isn't it often the case that a film made to condemn the atrocities of war is always likely to be interpreted differently depending on the prejudices the audience brings with them? If you already think the Japanese are devils, this film will confirm you in your belief. If you distrust Americans, you will find more fuel for your prejudice here. If you think all war is hell, you'll go away convinced that this film is a great contribution to the cause of pacifism.
I tend towards the latter. And I think I could use this film in class to teach history.
21 of 26 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?