In December 1937, during the Second Japanese-Sino War, a Chinese doctor, his Japanese pregnant wife, their teenage daughter and their young son travel from Shanghai to Nanjing seeking ... See full summary »
About a young Chinese-American author's journey into the darkest reaches of humanity as she researched and wrote her best selling book "The Rape of Nanking". Iris Chang's harrowing ... 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
The Story of Nanking From the Mouths of These People Seems to Me Like a Whole New World of Terror
How does one visualize the diaries of unfilmed people who are no longer living? Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman employ actors to read, as if in a playwrights' initiative, the records of the tortured souls buried by time and the formal writings of human history. At first, I thought the story was somehow cheapened by this technique, but upon reflection, I see the power of its subjectivity. As a freshman in high school, I saw a documentary in a history class about "The Rape of Nanking" in 1937, which truly stunned me with its depictions of the utmost brutality and heartless destruction that went on when the Japanese invaded. That was one thing. Another was seeing this film, which not only interweaves stock footage and photographs on par with those of the Holocaust, but features Chinese survivors who tell their stories, their overwhelmingly horrific stories. And as for the survivors who can't speak for themselves, actors speak their very words for them. In a sense, that is one of the more essential aspects of what actors do: Identify.
It's not often that I connect on a personal level with historical accounts of atrocity. I hear of Jews, gays and gypsies being cooked alive, gassed, starved and other such things and I can only recognize the horror and be disturbed by indefensible fright and indescribable shock that I see in a victim's eyes, for instance. The story of Nanking from the mouths of these people seems to me like a whole new world of terror. It is thus evidenced that human beings are capable of the most unspeakable cruelty and insurmountable venom. Perhaps it's that German and Japanese culture have a history of thinking very uniformly, whereas Americans, in spite of how cruel and despicable we've been throughout our history, have a record of being torn by internal struggles. This documentary glimpses the other side of the coin: Are human beings capable of surviving their experience with the same unspeakable cruelty and insurmountable venom?
Maybe the reason I felt at first as if the film was deterred by the artifice of actors could be because the most riveting moments are all interviews with real Chinese survivors. The most arresting moments by far are the unexpected interviews with Japanese who were in the army during the Sino Japanese War committing the atrocities. At least one of them chuckles at a recollection.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this