7.2/10
5,888
24 user 53 critic

City of War: The Story of John Rabe (2009)

John Rabe (original title)
Trailer
2:08 | Trailer
A true-story account of a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese during the Nanjing massacre in 1937-38.
8 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

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
Stars: Ye Liu, Wei Fan, Hideo Nakaizumi
Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An English teacher brings soccer from England to Germany in the late 19th Century by teaching it to his class.

Director: Sebastian Grobler
Stars: Daniel Brühl, Burghart Klaußner, Thomas Thieme
Nanking (2007)
Biography | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Through readings of historical account by actors and the testimony of survivors, the events of the Nanjing Massacre are recounted.

Directors: Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman
Stars: Hugo Armstrong, Rosalind Chao, Stephen Dorff
La Rafle (2010)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A faithful retelling of the 1942 "Vel' d'Hiv Roundup" and the events surrounding it.

Director: Rose Bosch
Stars: Jean Reno, Mélanie Laurent, Gad Elmaleh
Assembly (2007)
Action | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A soldier fights to gain recognition for comrades who died during the Chinese Civil War.

Director: Xiaogang Feng
Stars: Hanyu Zhang, Chao Deng, Wenkang Yuan
Nanjing 1937 (1995)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5/10 X  

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 »

Director: Ziniu Wu
Stars: Han Chin, Ai Saotome, Rene Liu
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An American finds refuge during the 1937 Japanese invasion of Nanking in a church with a group of women. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Xinyi Zhang
Female Agents (2008)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

London, 1944: SOE's section for French ops parachute 4 women into France, plus a woman there, to free an English geologist and kill SS colonel Heindrich.

Director: Jean-Paul Salomé
Stars: Sophie Marceau, Julie Depardieu, Moritz Bleibtreu
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

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 »

Directors: Anne Pick, William Spahic
Stars: Olivia Cheng, Jillian Rees-Brown
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Georg "Schorsch" Kempter is a gardener in a small Bavarian town, working day-in, day-out in his nursery, which is facing bankruptcy. He doesn't like to talk much. He never has. His marriage... See full summary »

Director: Florian Gallenberger
Stars: Elmar Wepper, Emma Bading, Monika Baumgartner
Amen. (2002)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

During WWII SS officer Kurt Gerstein tries to inform Pope Pius XII about Jews being sent to extermination camps. Young Jesuit priest Riccardo Fontana helps him in the difficult mission to inform the world.

Director: Costa-Gavras
Stars: Ulrich Tukur, Mathieu Kassovitz, Ulrich Mühe
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

In 1934 Diego Padilla wins the Spanish Championship of Chess and meets a French journalist, Marianne Latour, and they fall in love. At the end of the Civil War, Marianne convinces Diego to ... See full summary »

Director: Luis Oliveros
Stars: Marc Clotet, Melina Matthews, Alejo Sauras
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ulrich Tukur ... John Rabe
Daniel Brühl ... Dr. Georg Rosen
Steve Buscemi ... Dr. Robert Wilson
Anne Consigny ... Valérie Dupres
Dagmar Manzel Dagmar Manzel ... Dora Rabe
Jingchu Zhang ... Langshu
Teruyuki Kagawa ... Prince Asaka Yasuhiko
Mathias Herrmann Mathias Herrmann ... Werner Fließ
Tetta Sugimoto Tetta Sugimoto ... Nakajima Kesago
Akira Emoto Akira Emoto ... Matsui Iwane
Arata Iura ... Major Ose (as Arata)
Shaun Lawton Shaun Lawton ... John Magee
Christian Rodska ... Lewis Smythe
Gottfried John ... Dr. Oskar Trautmann
Fang Yu Fang Yu ... Han
Edit

Storyline

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 KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

History needs extraordinary heroes.


Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

France | China | Germany

Release Date:

2 April 2009 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

City of War: The Story of John Rabe See more »

Filming Locations:

Nanjing, Jiangsu, China See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,892, 23 May 2010

Gross USA:

$67,519

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,484,077
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the chief headaches for the production involved the scene where a Japanese soldier insists on searching the girls' dormitory in the college and orders the girls to remove their nightgowns. A huge majority of Chinese actresses refused to appear nude because it would have brought shame to their families. See more »

Goofs

When the safety zone is being established, a banner is being hung over the portal. The mis-spelled inscription reads "INTERNATIONAL SAFTY ZONE". See more »

Quotes

John Rabe: Chang, what's the point in you having a head?
Chang: So that it not rain into my neck.
John Rabe: Quite right.
See more »

Alternate Versions

German TV version features ca. 45 minutes of additional footage. See more »

Soundtracks

Den Zhe Ni Hui Lai
Written by Yan Zhe Xi and Yan Kua
Performed by Tang Ye Fing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Some explanation about the reception...
24 September 2011 | by Radu_ASee all my reviews

... essentially all has been said, but some reviews criticize the diversions from the original story. These would seem to have something to do with Chinese censorship following concerns about economic cooperation with Japan. That may explain the sometimes disjointed story structure, and the inclusion of a 'good' Japanese officer warning the Germans about imminent danger to the safety zone, while there is still ample display of Japanese brutality - even though, if you ever visited the memorial in Nanjing itself, you'll find these rather tame in comparison to the photos there.

At the time of its release in Germany, reviews were largely negative because Rabe's Nazi Party membership was downplayed in the film. His naivety in regard to Hitler is portrayed (writing him letters urging Hitler to intervene on behalf of the safety zone), but this was seen as way too ambivalent. Gallenberger was criticized for making a 'big' film with Hollywood clichés. And instead of a competition slot at the Berlinale, the film was screened as a 'Special' because the festival apparently shied away from controversy. Having only seen it now for these reasons, I must say that these complaints are exaggerated. There's nothing wrong with a German director trying to make a real cinematic feature instead of an overblown TV production, as it is usually the case. And Gallenberger was certainly the right man for the job, given his previous endeavor of a German Bollywood film. Sadly, the entirely justified vilification of the Nazi regime still clouds the perception of individuals living in that era, and there's some sort of German instinct to snap at everything that could be even remotely interpreted as euphemism - which isn't the case here.

What I really liked about the film was that it clarifies that the safety zone was an international 'joint venture' so to speak, instead of being due to the efforts of Rabe alone. Buscemi played all the right keys with his character, and still restrained his presence to allow Ulrich Tukur to take central stage. And his performance is definitely worth the BlueRay. He is one of the very few German actors with aura; Daniel Brühl, in my opinion, isn't, but he's pretty good here, as his scenes with Tukur are balanced very well.

If you found John Rabe's story amazing, you might be interested in the even more controversial Johannes Lepsius, who was the principal witness of the Armenian Genocide during World War I - under similar circumstances, as Germany and Turkey were allies, as with the Japanese at the time of the Nanjing Massacre. I couldn't help but think of that while watching 'John Rabe' - that a film based on Lepsius would be far more controversial than this one, since Turkey denies the Armenian genocide to this day even more vehemently than Japan denies Nanjing.

I give 'John Rabe' 8/10 because I feel this film has been treated a little harshly, but 7.5 sounds just about right.


13 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 24 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed