Zhang Yimou’s (张艺谋) Flowers of War (金陵十三钗) starring Christian Bale, said to be the most expensive movie ever made in China, premiers on Friday in China.
Watch the trailer for Flowers of War
The film, based on a novel by Yan Geling (严歌苓), explores the 1937 Nanjing Massacre through the lives of 13 prostitutes who offer themselves to the Japanese soldiers instead of students.
Microblog users are reacting differently to the film’s portrayal of one of the biggest incidents in Chinese history, often used in nationalistic debates about China’s place in the world.
Zhang Ming (张鸣), a well-known academic and historian, said:
In China, faced with foreign enemies, men are useless, so it’s up to the women… Now we have the Flowers of War.
Han Song (韩松), a Xinhua editor and popular Science Fiction author, reacted to the film in a negative way:
The Nanjing massacre points to the time during the Second World War, when Japanese troops invaded China’s then capital Nanking, and for as long as long six weeks they killed, looted, raped, and committed other war crimes in the city as well as [its] suburbs. After 74 years, Zhang Yimou made Flowers of War, but critics have said that this isn’t a realistic film.
As part of Sina microblog’s efforts to mark the 74th anniversary of the massacres, five survivors in their eighties and nineties, were invited to open microblogs and talk about their experience.
I have heard from my daughter that one of the stars of Flowers of War messaged me on [the] microblog. I feel very warm and very moved.
- The 83-year old also acted as a consultant on Lu Chuan’s (陆川) film City of Life and Death or Nanjing! Nanjing! and reminded young people, especially actors, about the tragedy:
- Not only did I see for myself the crimes committed by the Japanese devils, and also heard from people I knew or older girls from next door who had been harmed by the Japanese devils. So in the movie, when they hear that our John Rabe was leaving, how could they not feel upset? As soon as Rabe leaves, it would mean that more Chinese people will suffer. After hearing my stories, the young actors threw themselves into the acting, and no-one will laugh about it anymore.
- Cheng Fubao had his grandson write:
My grandfather’s father was killed cruelly by the Japanese devils during the massacre by a shot through the heart…
Most of the survivors speak about the Nanjing massacre in a way that reflects deep pain and an overarching narrative that the “rape of Nanjing” was one of the most tragic episodes in recent Chinese history.