7.7/10
9,557
63 user 147 critic

Nanjing! Nanjing! (2009)

Trailer
1:23 | Trailer
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

Writer:

Chuan Lu
12 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ye Liu ... Lu Jianxiong
Yuanyuan Gao ... Miss Jiang
Wei Fan ... Mr. Tang
Lan Qin ... Mrs. Tang
Hideo Nakaizumi Hideo Nakaizumi ... Sgt. Masao Kadokawa
Ryu Kohata Ryu Kohata ... Officer Osamu Ida (as Kohata Ryuichi)
Yiyan Jiang Yiyan Jiang ... Jiang Xiang Jun / Xiao Jiang
Di Yao Di Yao ... Zhou Xiaomei / May
Yisui Zhao Yisui Zhao ... Shunzi
Bin Liu Bin Liu ... Xiao Douzi (Juvenile)
Yûko Miyamoto Yûko Miyamoto ... Yuriko
John Paisley John Paisley ... John Rabe
Beverly Peckous Beverly Peckous ... Miss Minnie Vautrin
Sam Voutas ... Durdin (as You Sima)
Aisling Dunne Aisling Dunne ... Doctor
Edit

Storyline

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.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for wartime violence and atrocities including sexual assault, and for some sexuality and brief nudity | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

China | Hong Kong

Language:

Mandarin | English | Japanese | German

Release Date:

22 April 2009 (China) See more »

Also Known As:

City of Life and Death See more »

Filming Locations:

Changchun, China See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,610, 15 May 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$119,922, 30 October 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Japanese politicians have also sparked anger in China by visiting the Yasukuni shrine, which honors fallen Japanese soldiers, including 14 convicted war criminals. See more »

Goofs

After Rabe leaves Nanjin, there is a scene showing the execution of 3 Chinese men tied to posts. After the execution, when the man on the right post is untied and his body laid on the ground by guards, one can clearly see the actor lowering his head down slowly on the ground. The head of a dead body would have dropped more massively. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Amazing piece of cinema, powerful. dramatic, moving
17 May 2009 | by SimonsterSee all my reviews

Viewed at the Festival de Cannes 2009 (Market screening)

Since I am not Chinese, or of Chinese extraction, City of Life and Death has a different resonance for me. I know of the Nanking massacre (for which, it has to be said, the Japanese have yet to apologise or even properly acknowledge) from my own interest in history, as well as the John Rabe story (the Nazi who helped save thousands of Chinese civilians, until recalled to Germany since Hitler did not wish to upset his Japanese allies).

Therefore, for me, City of Life and Death retells a fearful part of history, but not one with which I have any direct connection. So while this film may resonate a certain way for Chinese viewers, be they from the mainland, Hong Kong or overseas Chinese, I can tell you that I, as a European, have seldom seen a film so powerful, gripping, dramatic and moving.

City of Life and Death is not nationalistic propaganda or a reversioning for the screen: no punches are pulled. The woman next to me was in tears. So be warned, this is not easy viewing. But by featuring on a few characters, allowing them to become fully three-dimensional human beings (not Chinese, not Asian, but human beings who live, love and feel) director Lu Chuan makes his audience feel and share their fear and terror as the Japanese invaders commit atrocity after atrocity on the fallen city's inhabitants. Never forget, this actually happened.

If anything, Lu Chuan soft pedals on the horrors. They are depicted, but are not front and centre. This is not a horror film so gore hounds and ghouls should seek their thrills elsewhere. Rather, it is the arbitrariness with which the Japanese went about their murderous work that scares. Wrong place, wrong time: rape, torture, murder. This wasn't the efficient, methodical murder the Nazis introduced, but rather cold brutality, as a cat toys with a helpless mouse. Unthinking, unreasoning, just because.

Filmed in black and white, City has so many images and scenes that remain fixed in you mind long after the final credits have rolled. Lu Chuan even selects the grain and grading according to the action. The use of colour would, in this case, have weakened the film.

But if City of Life and Death were just two hours of suffering it would be unworthy of an audience. So Lu Chuan gives us the central characters of Mr. Tang (John Rabe's secretary), Miss Jiang (a schoolteacher) and Kadokawa (a sensitive Japanese soldier who witness but cannot delay the unspeakable). All of them are helplessly swept up in the maelstrom, which Lu Chuan leavens with scenes of (attempts at) normal life, normal human interaction and naked attempts at survival. These are people with whom one can identify and empathise.

Yet, at heart, City of Life and Death is extremely uplifting. The message, at the end, is positive and optimistic. In writing this review, the film is coming back to me again. What I once read, black and white on a page, has been made real for me and, yes, I'm emotionally moved by it.

If you believe in the power of film, want a break from popcorn entertainment, are looking for a film that can make you feel (as opposed to having your emotions manipulated) then please go see this one. It's rare when I think a film should be seen, deserves to be seen, but City of Life and Death belong in that very rare category.


131 of 149 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 63 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed