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
The farewell scene between Rabe and Dora at the docks involved 750 extras. See more »
The USS Panay is shown as a passenger ship when she was in fact a U.S. Navy River Gunboat. The movie shows the Panay being attacked within sight of Nanking (now known as Nanjing) but in reality it had moved 28 miles upriver and dropped anchor, along with three Standard Oil tankers. The attack lasted for 2.5 hours until the ship finally sunk. The attack left 3 sailors dead, 43 sailors and 5 civilians wounded. See more »
Stop it! This is the safety zone. Get out and leave the women alone.
[Rabe switches to German and makes a Nazi salute]
We're Germans. Germans. We're Germans.
[Japanese officer aims his pistol at Rabe]
Help me out here, damn it!
Dr. Georg Rosen:
[Rosen also makes a Nazi salute]
Heil... Shitler. Heil Shitler.
[after resolving the situation]
That's not funny.
Dr. Georg Rosen:
We got through.
All the same, he is the Führer of the German people.
Dr. Georg Rosen:
And shall I tell you what I don't find funny?
[...] See more »
German TV version features ca. 45 minutes of additional footage. See more »
This is the second film about the Nanking (Nanjing) massacre of 1937, to come out recently. Both feature a man whose bravery saved many thousands of lives and who was largely unknown to the wider world until very recently. John Rabe was a member of the Nazi party and had worked in Nanking as the senior executive for Siemens for many years. In the eponymous film it's suggested that he is about to return to Germany, but his departure is prevented by the sudden attack with over-powering military force, by the Japanese.
Rabe stays, and heads a committee that sets up a safety zone around the Siemens works and the main embassies. When the Japanese take Nanking, and embark on wholesale rape and slaughter, this zone keeps more than 200,000 Chinese in greater safety that elsewhere in the city.
The story is seen through Rabe's eyes mainly and focuses more on Westerners than the Japanese, although the dire impact of a member of the Imperial Family on the decisions made by the Japanese to execute unarmed soldiers, is highlighted .
Some beheadings are shown but the wide scale practice of rape and enforced prostitution is skirted around. Nevertheless, the atmosphere of menace, instant arbitrary death and fanaticism is established effectively.
The film grips and, in its own way, inspires. It is interesting to see this film and the more symbolic approach taken by Chuan Lu in 'City of Life and Death'. Both cover the same time period. Both are films that leave you pondering on human nature, its heights and its gross distortions.
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