You are here

The City of Life and Death

3 posts / 0 new
Last post
Michael Frew
Topic replies: 8
Topic Posts: 1
The City of Life and Death

The film, "City of Life and Death" highlights the military atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers during the 1937 invasion of Nanking, China. The story consists of a collection of victims' perspectives, from refugees to soldiers told in black and white film. The Chinese put up a mediocre fight against the organized Japanese artillary. As the Japanese advanced through ruins of the capital, they are instructed to destroy everything in their path. The horrors come when Japanese soldiers begin rounding up masses of Chinese refugees and executing them in a most inhumane manner. The disregard for Chinese lives is so blatant and cruel that at several points it brings even a Nazi representitive from Germany to tears of mercy. Although the story follows different actors, one unlikely protagonist is a timid Japanese soldier who witnesses the indiscriminate rapes and slaughter around him. The only murder he commits is of a woman guilty of trying to save a Chinese man about to be executed with a group of others. She would have been sentenced to being a comfort woman. His story ends with the film; a suicide following the release of 2 Chinese prisoners. The film spares no detail in documenting the savagery of imperialist Japan during World War 2. The black and white film is reminiscent of a Schindler's List Asian equivalent. 

After watching just 1 hour of the 2-hour film I felt a little sick. It was shocking just to see these would-be war crimes in horrifying detail in a movie, let alone imagining these were real events in the 20th century. Watching the film, I felt as though I got a clearer perspective of how barbaric war is in ways that go beyond the soldier-to-soldier carnage. One begins to see how the trauma of this conflict ripples deep through generations and wide through the population. Certainly, this would be a film more suitable for a mature viewer hoping to understand a fraction of the trauma experienced just a few generations between the Chinese and Japanese during WW2. 

clay dube
Topic replies: 1896
Topic Posts: 604

City of Life and Death (南京!南京!in Chinese) trailer:

Lindsay Reiss
Topic replies: 31
Topic Posts: 3

I too watched a WWII movie, Grave of the Fireflies. That movie was also difficult to watch. It looked at the end of the war during the times of the nuclear bombs in Japan. I really want to watch this one too in order to see a different perspective on the events of the war.