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Film Review: City of Life and Death

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Film Review: City of Life and Death

City of Life and Death, directed by Lu Chuan, is a visually stunning film (it was shot in black and white, reminiscent of Speilberg’s Schindler’s List) that tells the story of the Rape Nanjing as experienced by some of the cities Chinese inhabitants, a German businessman, and a young Japanese soldier. In terms of conveying the magnitude of the horrific atrocities exacted by the Japanese army upon the Chinese, this film, while not being as gruesome as it might have been, certainly gets the point across. Of particular interest is the way in which the japanese soldier is presented in the film: as a young man with a soul who is struggling to come to terms with a world gone wrong; certinly this sympathetic portrayal was a source of controversy for many. While overall, an outstanding film that should be seen by many, it is probably a bit too brutal for viewing in your average high school class, due to violence, including a brutal gang-rape scene. I enjoyed the film, but for my class, I will have to stick with excerpts of Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanjing. Either way, I do think that it is helpful to introduce students to this particular story, alongside the Nazi Holocaust, and the use of the atomic Bomb on Japan, when teaching about the incredible changes in warfare tactics that engulfed the first half of the twentieth century.