Upon its release in China, it attracted some criticism for its sympathetic portrayal of the Japanese soldier Kadokawa. Director Chuan Lu received online death threats to both himself and his family on the strength of this. See more »
Several scenes take place on a square where stands what seems to be a ruined large public building. Towards the end, this building is shown from another angle, but it is clear from its shape that the image has been flipped horizontally. See more »
A very fine movie, strong and rather heavy. I was relatively familiar with the events that took place in Nanjing therefore I was not surprised by the atrocities I saw reenacted on the big screen.The device of shooting the film in black and white was effective, in the sense that it created an impression akin to a documentary or a current affairs reportage of the age. Alessandro Ahmenabar may have said that he wanted "Agora" to give the impression that it reported events from 4th century A.D. Alexandria like a CNN live correspondence but I think "The City of Life and Death" was the movie that succeeded on that, giving to the spectator the impression of watching the events in live coverage.
Although it portrayed numerous atrocities, it masterfully avoided the trap of succumbing to "pornography of violence". It also tried to treat the incidences of mass rape and "comfort women", which after all are the reasons that the conquest of Nanking became notorious and was named The Rape of Nanking, in a relatively discreet manner, the only one possible.
The actors were expressive and one must note that this multi-person drama, lacking a protagonist was reminiscent of the technique of the films of Robert Altman also lacking a protagonist.
It was also a good idea to create a positive and repentant Japanese character in order to alleviate the obnoxious impression that the viewer would form about the Japenese people in general.
I do not know whether there is a propaganda value in this movie but judging it a work of art, being not involved in Sino-Japanese affairs, I find it outstanding.
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