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
Glad this was made, but could've been much better, more accurate
I have studied the man John Rabe through his diaries and other accounts of him from some of the main players such as Minnie Vautrin, Dr. Robert Wilson, Lewis Smythe, etc., and was expecting to see more of his actual work on the Peace Zone and Red Cross committees and perhaps a little less of the personal life--it's nice we got to see some of his relationship with his wife, but I think the movie would have benefited more from detail as to WHY he is so revered in China--he was so intelligent, kind-hearted, and seemed to truly love the Chinese people, and some of this is shown, as well as a little of his naiveté, but it needed MORE. For a character like Rabe you cannot just call him a benevolent Buddha and expect all the viewers to just know the details. I actually enjoyed Buscemi as Dr. Wilson, though I doubt Rabe would've sat still for the Hitler song, even while drinking! Wilson wore himself out, almost to death, in the hospital--where he would've found a moment for such a scene is a question. The one BIG issue that is appallingly inaccurate, to the point of being offensive, is the fictive character of Ms. Dupre. As one who has studied this period and read biographies on the main players, I kept wondering WHERE was Minnie Vautrin, the principal of Jinling Women's College, and WHO was this French woman?? How in the world did the creators of this movie go to such lengths to dramatize Rabe's life in Nanjing, yet make up this silly female character to replace an actual, real, wonderful and strong character like Vautrin? It just made NO sense to me at all. The Chinese called Rabe "The Living Buddha" for the immense efforts he made to save them (and as I said, more of this needed to be shown), and Minnie Vautrin, an American educator who loved China, was called the Goddess of Mercy-- there was no romance between them, but only an immense respect and need to help the Chinese. A romance seems to be implied between Rabe and this Miss Dupre character, which is a ridiculous development, especially leaving out the REAL Vautrin and her work. Also, some of the plots seemed superfluous, such as the development with Rabe's wife, and the emotional level was more shallow than I expected for a film about such a man as Rabe. Not a bad film, but just lacking in so many ways. I almost shut it off half way through, out of sheer frustration with the lack of fact and the made-up characters, but stuck it out. There were glaring errors and a disconnectedness to the story that were too distracting for me personally, however, I do recommend it in the end, if only to those who want to know more about such a great man as John Rabe--though, even for a movie hound like m'self, I think READING about him is better than anything this movie offers.
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