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|Index||110 reviews in total|
I watched the movie in Beijing, twice. The second time I liked it more.
This has to be one of the best Chinese films yet, if not the best. Some
scenes are pretty brutal, but really worth watching, to say the least.
The director Zhang YiMou told a powerful, touching and beautiful story, while delivering stunning visual effects as always. All actors from different countries did an amazing job in making so many strong characters in 3 languages, not just the American 'priest', but also those prostitutes, the boy George, all the children, Japanese officers, and the Chinese 'traitor'.
Good movie is like a mirror, some people might get upset watching it, while others see love for others, respect for life, and the human spirit of fighting for peace out of tragedy. Each audience's reaction more or less reflects his/her personal value. The storytelling is objective so you can judge for yourself. In front of a masterpiece like this, people who ranked it very low deliberately because of stereotypes against China or whatever twisted reason (I KNOW YOU EXSIT ON THIS SITE), you need to sit down and think what's wrong with yourself, no matter how open-minded you claim you are.
Some say it is a propaganda production. I have to disagree here. Almost everything in this movie is based on real history, including how Japanese tortured Chinese war victims, how prostitutes stood up to protect other women during the Rape of NanJing, as well as how some westerners resided in China at the time helped local Chinese. Anyone who can pick up a few books or do a bit of research on internet knows it.
English is not my mother language so I can't write an review with big words like those professional critics do. However, this is the first time I feel so moved by a movie that I'd write an English review online to recommend it to viewers outside of China. Simply too good to miss.
If any Chinese simply walked out of the cinema cursing Japanese, I'd say the movie failed big time. However, both times I saw people left quietly, some still sobbing, and heard them saying how lucky they are to be born in this era and how precious peace is. For that reason, I applaud this film.
It is what it is. Horrible things happened in history. Hate and anger won't do any good today. Make peace with yourself and move on. Just like what George said in the movie, life is precious, it is not ours to throw away.
Honestly,I am not the kind of people easily being touched so deeply as
to cry, and I didn't cry much during the movie indeed. I just walked
out the movie theater,took a bus,got off the bus,bought a piece of
bread, walked home while eating the bread,then all of sudden burst into
Till now I still haven't walked out of it. There is so much to say, yet you don't know what to say nor how to say it. My only advice: you walk into the movie theater, forget whatever people said on the Internet, and just watch it with your own heart.
It is a great movie.
Watched this movie last night in a packed Beijing cinema on its opening night. First off, I would like to say that Christian Bale traces perfectly the path of enlightenment that follows Wild-West style bandit obsessed with money becoming priest and father-figure in all but religious training. The film is in roughly 50% English, 35% Chinese and 15% Japanese, so there is a real assimilation of different languages and cultures coming together. However, this unfortunately leads to some moments which seem disconcertingly humorous. For example, there is one point where a Japanese general confesses to priest-figure Bale that he likes music; the triviality of such statement in the midst of mass-murder seems absurd enough, but it is also delivered in a dead-pan way with broken English. I could not help but burst out laughing, even though none of the Chinese in the cinema saw any form of humour in it. Indeed, I think that as a Westerner watching this film, my emotional response is not as visceral as it would be to a Chinese person. That is only natural, but it leads to a completely different interpretation of the movie. Some of the murder scenes are brutally horrific to a Chinese person, so much so that the wonderful filmography which permeates throughout the movie may not be fully appreciated. The hues are brown and green, earthy, rugged and militaristic for the most part. Yet there are occasionally beautiful trims of colour, the church's stained-glass window, the clothes on the washing line left out to dry. A sign, no doubt, of the beauty of humanity in the midst of dreadful war. It has been suggested this movie is propaganda. I don't know if I entirely agree with that. There is no positive way to spin what was a shameful event in Japan's history, and for what it's worth I think that Zhang Yimou delineates well the soldiers occasional insecurity, homesickness, and humanisation brought on by paranoia and pressure from above. A movie well-worth watching, and which I would like to watch for a second time to re- establish which moment are intentionally humorous, which moments are unintentionally humorous, and which moments are tragic. Kudos for Zhang Yimou for tackling such a visited topic (That of the Nanjing massacre) which a freshness, and even more kudos to Christian Bale for stepping up to the plate and giving in a great performance.
It's a great movie, very touching. The background is Nanking Massacre,
at that cruel and desperate history moment, the director finds a
special perspective to show us goodness, hope, sacrifice and humanity.
Although I've seen so many war movies before, this one is different. I
could not help crying through the whole movie, even I told myself "This
is just another war movie, you should control your tears" But the movie
has nothing to do with intendedly giving audience slushy emotional
scenes. Even at some dark and sad moments, there is no background
All the actors and actresses give a stellar performance. Good story, good acting, beautiful scene. My teacher once said "Audience never cry for tragedy，but they will cry for good things."
Anyway, it's a powerful movie, highly recommended.
PS: All the victims in Nanking Massacre deserve a serious apology from Japanese.
Someone wrote and I quote : "there was never a moment of this movie that will bring tears in someone's eyes". Whomever wrote this is not Chinese for sure! I started crying right after 15 minutes in the cinema .This whole movie's dialog is in Nan Jing Hua (local accent mandarin ). Sounds funny at beginning , but it's more easy to bring audience into the story with characters . Zhangyimou's movie are famous for bright colors and nice view since he use to be cameraman. But this movie is so much more than the visual! Color still pretty though, the paper shop, those QiPao, girls make-up , everything is pretty . I guess to ruin the beautiful things defines the tragedy. My friend who watched it before told me do not watched it in the morning , because it will upset you whole day. So I went to cinema in the afternoon, and I could sleep until 5 am this morning. Comparing to Zhang Yi Mou's earlier work like " hero", this is definitely his best work in 10years!
Zhang Yimou has crafted a beautifully shot and compelling story set inside horrific events. About all I knew of this movie was it was set in 1937 China and starred Christian Bale. Not knowing much allowed me to be completely open to the journey of the characters. This is an emotionally powerful story about people caught in circumstances for which there seems no hope of survival. The Japanese soldiers are shown as barbaric, but we do meet an officer who attempts to remain honorable though he must do his duty to his superiors. The violence in the movie is brutal, but not graphic or gratuitous. The choices and sacrifices made by the characters never seemed contrived. The arc of Christian Bale's character may seem 'predictable', but it is never false or 'convenient' to the story. All actors are excellent. Because they're foreign to me I had no idea who they are or their other work. At the screening I attended we were introduced to Ni Ni, who said this was her first film. She is both beautiful and compelling. I wish her a long career. Yimou, through his daughter, told us about his journey to make this movie - based on a novel, based on real events. He has told an amazing story that will stay with me for a long time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Crowd Report: Watched this movie on Christmas day. The crowd is a mix
of seniors and Chinese speaking audience of various ages. Theater is
about 60% full for a 2pm show. And adults please don't bring young kids
to this movie. Some scenes are so brutal I have to cover my eyes.
The critics reviews are terrible and I was on the fence about seeing this movie. Zhang Yimou's films from the last ten years had been disappointing starting with "Hero". I felt he caved in too much to commercial interests and government interference. But make no mistake, the critics are overly harsh on this film. Flowers of War is a solid film that worth seeing. It's Zhang's best in ten years.
1. About the "white man saving the native" angle - this is unfair criticism. Bale did have a lot of screen time but the movie's heart really lies in the heroic act of 13 courtesans. Chinese audience totally get the reference when Yu Mo says prostitutes in China have a reputation - they are oblivious of their country's troubles and have no national conscience - and they decide to change that with their actions. Bale's character and transformation are really inspired by the 13 women and is the backdrop, not the center of the story, hence the title "Flowers of the War".
2. About criticism of excessive sentimentality and far-fetched plot - Zhang used the reluctant hero archetype on Miller and the arc of story is relatively conventional. Zhang might have also used too many slow-mo shots and prolonged some sequences, but I feel the sentimental parts of the story are effective and consistent with his style. The characters are layered enough for me to believe their actions. For example, not all the courtesans are on board to replace students. Many of the courtesans think they are lying to the students to get them off the tower, but they decide to actually do it. Part of that decision is the desire to do what is courageous, and another part the motherly nature to protect the young and vulnerable. This aspect is probably a bit understated in the film, but it's clearly there.
3. About the portrayal of Japanese soldiers - many critics accused this movie of one dimensional in portraying Japanese soldiers, I disagree. The most memorable Japanese character, played by Kobayashi, is obviously very cultured and very conflicted as well. The decision to take the student to the "party" seems to come from higher up in the military and not Kato's decision to make. There are some stories there in the Japanese military I would liked to see explored. The actions of regular Japanese soldiers portrayed in this movie, however, is supported by historical testimonials and photographic evidence. I found them accurate at the least and even watered-down. It's pure hypocrisy to criticize this movie for giving an honest portrayal of brutality during Japanese Occupation of Nanjing and giving praises to movies that portray equally ghastly holocaust in Germany. And accusations that this movie is propaganda against Japan is simply unfounded - this is a war movie about courage, sacrifice and human compassion during very extreme circumstances. It simply make us reflect and appreciate the peace we are enjoying right now.
Some highlight worth mentioning: The boy who played George delivered a wonderful and nuanced performance. He even overshadows Bale in some scenes; The Nanjing dialect in this movie is great and adds considerable authenticity to the characters; the music is wonderfully low-key and appropriately Chinese.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am about 40 and have been watching movies for 25 years. I must say I
am no a professional except knowing what movie moves me keeply. This
movie comes from a huge and heavy background. My history teacher cried
sadly when she gave me the class about the darkest time in Chinese
Modern history. For those who give cold comments about the movie, I
confessed I tried hard to hold my tears next to my wife in the movie
But the moment "little George" said: "there is no other way!" My salty tears kept rolling out! I hope people respect those victims and stopped saying this piece of history does not exist. There were brave American medicals and priests who risked their lives at that time to keep journals and photo about the crimes.
Apart from prejudice, I consider that this movie is very controlled in a lot of ways. For many educated Chinese, we all read a lot of documents/short films and photo that were amazingly made by the Japanese soldiers themselves for showing off and promoting a sense of fears at that time.
I am glad such scene is made in a very controlled yet enlighting manner. For a Chinese viewer, the burden to watch this movie is extremely heavy, especially before X'mas.
I am glad this story is told in a small angle that reflects part of the whole picture. Apart from the history, it is a good film. Those characters are not as complex as the original novel. But as a whole it shows how a normal/powerless person could choose to do in one of the worst moments in modern history. No one is born hero. In war time,life may not worth more than a bullet, regardless which social class one is in. This movie tells a good story and I appreciate the making of such a touching film. One buddhish came to my mind: "a split of thoughts determine heaven or hell. " I would give a 8 because the film is solid and touching. However, it certainly is not an entertaining film for X'mas! I also appreciate those Japanese actors in the film. I knew from TV that they returned to the film making without delay after taking care of their families in earthquake!
No doubt, The Flowers Of War is the best film of 2011 and one of the
best films of Yimou Zhang like Huozhe(To Live) and Hong Gao Liang(Red
The history is true, this story is also true. The movie and novel are adapted from the Diary of Minnie Vantrin(from the files of Nanjing Massacre), Minnie is a churchwoman of USA died in 1941.
The movie is really tragic but beautiful, various goodness and evil of human nature were embodied fully and clearly and exquisitely under the beast of war............I just feel deeply sad and touching.
Postscript: the performance of Christian Bale is really wonderful. Bale will win his another Oscar by this film.
Watched "The flowers of war" on Dec 19, 2011, the 2nd day this film was released in mainland China. The movie theater is fully packed. This is the best film directed by Zhang Yimou after "Hero" in 2002. This is not a surprise because in my opinion all his films after "Hero" have very awful/terrible screen scripts, while this one is based on a well composed novel. The story is about how a dozen of prostitutes saved girl students from uncivilized Japanese soldiers during the Nanjing(Nanking) massacre period (starting from Dec. 13, 1937, lasted for two weeks, 300,000 murdered, 80,000 raped). To Chinese, this is the saddest and most humiliated moment in the 20th century. The script is not based on true stories, painfully the true stories are much worse, because there wasn't a savior, there's only constant desperation. The characters themselves are well described. The logic flow and mentality transition in this film are not delineated very well. I still gave it 8 out 10 because I think it's due to the limitation of the film's length. As always, Mr. Bale is good at acting in this film, but definitely not his best character such as those in "American Psycho" or "The Prestige". The two leading actresses are both new face. They'll become very famous in China after this film, but I don't think their performances are as impressive as Gong Li, who collaborated with Zhang Yimou in many of his early works. Last but not the least, there is a 1-minute romance scene which I think is the worst part in this film, because under such a tragic circumstance it's very unnatural to practice love, and it dampens the character build-up in many ways.
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