Vancity Theatre
City of Life and Death

China, 2009, 132 min 35mm
Director: Lu Chuan

Dates and Venue 22 Jul @ 8.30pm & 23 Jul @ 6.30 pm |Vancity Cinema, Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

What happened in Nanking in 1937 will never be forgotten by the Chinese. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II was published in 1997, and four years ago, Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking was produced as a feature film starring Vancouver actress Olivia Cheng in the lead role.

Two years ago, the same topic was made into a film City of War: The Story of John Rabe, a German/Chinese/French co-production. Rabe was a German who, like Schindler, constructed a Safety Zone in Nanking to save over 200,000 Chinese from the massacre.

City of Life and Death by Lu, shot in black and white, shows Rabe again as the saviour, but in a tragic light as he could not help as much as he wanted to.

Lu’s film is an honest and tough look at the atrocities committed in Nanking in the name of the Emperor (the soldiers are ordered to “Kill all, loot all, and burn all”). It shows graphic images of comfort women being raped repeatedly, and soldiers beheaded, gunned down and buried alive by the thousands.

This is indeed a tragic film, and like the Jewish holocaust, the Chinese have come up with films about their own holocaust.

. © 2011 Ed Farolan