7.2/10
5,061
20 user 48 critic

City of War: The Story of John Rabe (2009)

John Rabe (original title)
Trailer
2:08 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

A true-story account of a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese during the Nanjing massacre in 1937-38.
8 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Ravi has settled in his dreary fate as indented boy-laborer in a textile plant outside Calcutta, making sure he earns and saves more then other boys to buy his release. Yet when young, ... See full summary »

Director: Florian Gallenberger
Stars: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Prashant Narayanan, Tillotama Shome
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In 1937, Japan occupied Nanjing, the Chinese capital. There was a battle and subsequent atrocities against the inhabitants, especially those who took refuge in the International Security Zone.

Director: Chuan Lu
Stars: Ye Liu, Wei Fan, Hideo Nakaizumi
Nanking (2007)
Biography | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

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

Directors: Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman
Stars: Hugo Armstrong, Rosalind Chao, Stephen Dorff
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A woman tries to survive the invasion of Berlin by the Soviet troops during the last days of World War II.

Director: Max Färberböck
Stars: Nina Hoss, Evgeniy Sidikhin, Irm Hermann
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

David, a waiter, finds an unpublished manuscript in a dresser drawer. To impress a girl, he claims to be the author. When the novel becomes a best-seller the real author introduces himself in his life and begins to take-over David's life.

Director: Alain Gsponer
Stars: Daniel Brühl, Hannah Herzsprung, Henry Hübchen
Katyn (2007)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An examination of the Soviet slaughter of thousands of Polish officers and citizens in the Katyn forest in 1940.

Director: Andrzej Wajda
Stars: Andrzej Chyra, Maja Ostaszewska, Artur Zmijewski
The Grey Zone (2001)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A Nazi doctor, along with the Sonderkomando, Jews who are forced to work in the crematoria of Auschwitz against their fellow Jews, find themselves in a moral grey zone.

Director: Tim Blake Nelson
Stars: David Arquette, Velizar Binev, David Chandler
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A dramatization of the final days of Sophie Scholl, one of the most famous members of the German World War II anti-Nazi resistance movement, The White Rose.

Director: Marc Rothemund
Stars: Julia Jentsch, Fabian Hinrichs, Alexander Held
Honolulu (2001)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Directors: Uschi Ferstl, Florian Gallenberger, and 5 more credits »
Stars: Peter Bechtel, Daniel Brühl, Shira Fleisher
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The paths of two orphan brothers drastically change over the years, beginning when they were just boys living on the streets of Mexico City.

Director: Florian Gallenberger
Stars: Emilio Perez, Luis Fernando Peña, Chaco
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Film offers a new take on the Rwandan genocide, through the first person experience of one woman as the horror descends.

Director: Philippe Van Leeuw
Stars: Ruth Nirere, Lætitia Reva, Pacifique Niyotwizera
Tango Berlin (1997)
Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Directors: Florian Gallenberger, German Kral
Stars: German Kral, Wim Wenders
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Valérie Dupres
Dagmar Manzel ...
Dora Rabe
...
Langshu
...
Prince Asaka Yasuhiko
Mathias Herrmann ...
Werner Fließ
Tetta Sugimoto ...
Nakajima Kesago
Akira Emoto ...
Matsui Iwane
Arata Iura ...
Major Ose (as Arata)
...
...
Dr. Lewis Smythe
...
Dr. Oskar Trautmann
Fang Yu ...
Hsianglin Han
Edit

Storyline

After 28 years building and managing a vast Siemens plant in Nanking, John Rabe is ordered by the new Nazi regime to close it down. Before he can pack, the Japanese army, lead unofficially by a bloodthirsty imperial uncle, lays siege to the city. Rabe accepts, as prominent representative of Japans' major European ally, to head the Western ex-pats society's plan to start and run an international zone, like worked in Shangai. Rabe however wants it to save his workers and their close ones, over 200,000, and sacrifices all his personal interests. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

History needs extraordinary heroes.


Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

| |

Release Date:

2 April 2009 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

City of War: The Story of John Rabe  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,199 (USA) (28 May 2010)

Gross:

$67,255 (USA) (8 October 2010)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Originally planned with Ulrich Mühe in the title role. See more »

Goofs

The USS Panay is shown as a passenger ship when she was in fact a U.S. Navy River Gunboat. The movie shows the Panay being attacked within sight of Nanking (now known as Nanjing) but in reality it had moved 28 miles upriver and dropped anchor, along with three Standard Oil tankers. The attack lasted for 2.5 hours until the ship finally sunk. The attack left 3 sailors dead, 43 sailors and 5 civilians wounded. See more »

Quotes

John Rabe: To the Führer of the German people. Chancellor Adolf Hitler. My Führer. As a loyal party member and upstanding German. I turn to you in a time of great need. The Japanese Imperial troops conquered the city of Nanking on December 12, 1937. Since then I have witnessed atrocious crimes against civilians. Please help to end this catastrophe and make an appeal to our Japanese allies in the name of humanity. With a German salute.
[Rabe signs the letter]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Some explanation about the reception...
24 September 2011 | by (Germany) – See all my reviews

... essentially all has been said, but some reviews criticize the diversions from the original story. These would seem to have something to do with Chinese censorship following concerns about economic cooperation with Japan. That may explain the sometimes disjointed story structure, and the inclusion of a 'good' Japanese officer warning the Germans about imminent danger to the safety zone, while there is still ample display of Japanese brutality - even though, if you ever visited the memorial in Nanjing itself, you'll find these rather tame in comparison to the photos there.

At the time of its release in Germany, reviews were largely negative because Rabe's Nazi Party membership was downplayed in the film. His naivety in regard to Hitler is portrayed (writing him letters urging Hitler to intervene on behalf of the safety zone), but this was seen as way too ambivalent. Gallenberger was criticized for making a 'big' film with Hollywood clichés. And instead of a competition slot at the Berlinale, the film was screened as a 'Special' because the festival apparently shied away from controversy. Having only seen it now for these reasons, I must say that these complaints are exaggerated. There's nothing wrong with a German director trying to make a real cinematic feature instead of an overblown TV production, as it is usually the case. And Gallenberger was certainly the right man for the job, given his previous endeavor of a German Bollywood film. Sadly, the entirely justified vilification of the Nazi regime still clouds the perception of individuals living in that era, and there's some sort of German instinct to snap at everything that could be even remotely interpreted as euphemism - which isn't the case here.

What I really liked about the film was that it clarifies that the safety zone was an international 'joint venture' so to speak, instead of being due to the efforts of Rabe alone. Buscemi played all the right keys with his character, and still restrained his presence to allow Ulrich Tukur to take central stage. And his performance is definitely worth the BlueRay. He is one of the very few German actors with aura; Daniel Brühl, in my opinion, isn't, but he's pretty good here, as his scenes with Tukur are balanced very well.

If you found John Rabe's story amazing, you might be interested in the even more controversial Johannes Lepsius, who was the principal witness of the Armenian Genocide during World War I - under similar circumstances, as Germany and Turkey were allies, as with the Japanese at the time of the Nanjing Massacre. I couldn't help but think of that while watching 'John Rabe' - that a film based on Lepsius would be far more controversial than this one, since Turkey denies the Armenian genocide to this day even more vehemently than Japan denies Nanjing.

I give 'John Rabe' 8/10 because I feel this film has been treated a little harshly, but 7.5 sounds just about right.


8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Is it just me? sweetinjury-1
I hope friends from western world watch this film completely granwell
Finally!!! Chinese's Oskar Schindler!!! valleyboy12
Does the Chinese Release on DVD have English Subtitles? r-gordon-7
Would like to hear opinions from Japanese audience who bypassed the ban AquaExecution
German Trailer Marald

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?