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Nanking (2007)

R  |   |  Documentary, History, War  |  3 July 2007 (China)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 2,719 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 37 user | 46 critic | 19 from Metacritic.com

Through readings of historical account by actors and the testimony of survivors, the events of the Nanjing Massacre are recounted.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview:
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Lewis Smythe
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George Fitch
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Minnie Vautrin
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Yang Shu Ling
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Higashi Sakai
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Miner Searle Bates
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Stage Manager
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Li Pu
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Storyline

"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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Even in the darkest of times there is light See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing images and descriptions of wartime atrocities, including rape | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

3 July 2007 (China)  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$6,316 (USA) (14 December 2007)

Gross:

$160,140 (USA) (29 February 2008)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
An anti-war film - if you're ant-war inclined
26 January 2008 | by (Sweden) – See all my reviews

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.


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Nanking masscre Video - Sick Japanese Atrocities boukaihung
War crimes committed by the USA in the past 8 years flanerie
'No massacre in Nanking,' Japanese lawmakers say testarc2000
Have the Chinese have massacres in Japan similar to Nanking? geminihc
China won't let me say this... Anonymous_Maxine
In response to 'omfg, what biased crap' Gregor27
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