Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/592/7705

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 September 2009

Review

City of Life and Death

directed by Lu Chuan

THE FILM City of Life and Death depicts the Japanese Imperial army's infamous massacre of the Chinese city of Nanking in 1937. This remarkable and controversial movie leaves the viewer shocked and overwhelmed by its content.

Rob Bishop

In July 1937 imperialist Japan embarked on an all-out war against China. The ruling class of Japan wished to dominate its neighbour and seize its abundant natural resources. After Shanghai fell to the Japanese army that August, the Chinese army retreated to its capital, Nanking.

Filmed in black and white, giving it a documentary feel, City of Life and Death portrays the events from both the Chinese and Japanese point of view in the 'Rape of Nanking'. This angered many Chinese and resulted in death threats to director Lu Chuan which nearly resulted in the film's release in China being shelved.

To the Chinese, the destruction of the old capital of China and the cruel slaughter of 300,000 inhabitants burns deep in the national psyche. On the other side, some Japanese right-wingers deny such atrocities ever occurred, which is absurd and flies in the face of the evidence.

Director Lu Chuan tells the story from different points of view: that of a conquering Japanese soldier; a Chinese resistance fighter and his group of brave but outnumbered soldiers; the Nazi businessman John Rabe who, ironically, helped set up the 'Safety Zone' for refugees in the city and that of his Chinese secretary along with his family.

Character stereotypes, including of the Japanese are avoided and unlike western films on the Nanking massacre, the main focus is rightly on the Chinese and Japanese participants not of the few Europeans who played a role in these events.

The events depicted are harrowing, sometimes mundane, often brutal but not exploitative. A genuine attempt is made to realistically portray what happened in those weeks and its impacts on the lives of individuals involved: battle scenes are brutally realistic; Chinese POWs are slaughtered on an industrial scale; civilians are summarily executed; mass rape and enforced sexual enslavement of Chinese women is shown.

The images are shocking but in some respects restrained. For example, no coverage is made of the Japanese officers' 'sport' of beheading Chinese soldiers nor the use of chemical weapons by the invaders, though one scene does depict Japanese soldiers wearing gas masks.

City of Life and Death (released in China under the title Nanjing Nanjing) is a difficult film to watch, leaving the viewer emotionally drained. It depicts a terrible historical event that is little known in the West but which has affected the Chinese view of their fellow Asians in Japan to this day.

The brave approach by the director to depict the Japanese soldier as an ordinary human corrupted by events of war and his rulers' reactionary ideology may go some way to healing this rift.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 9 September 2009:

One million unemployed young people: 'We demand real jobs!'

Youth Fight for Jobs action

Youth unemployment: Future jobs or fake schemes?


War and occupation

Bring the troops back now!


Trades Union Congress

TUC conference: Workers willing to fight - in spite of leadership

Socialist Party TUC meeting

No to bosses' agenda

Time to fight back!


Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

Workers' action can stop NHS cuts

PCS members prepare to fight cuts and privatisation

Unite election: United Left hustings

Witch-hunted Unison member given extra charge

Construction workers protest

Inaugural meeting to establish a North Wales branch of the National Shop Stewards Network

Socialist Party trade unionists meeting


Postal workers strike

Postal workers national ballot: Vote 'yes' for strike action

Protesting against scabbing managers


RMT action

RMT action: Bus workers strike for pay rise

Vestas workers: Stop the blades

Comment: Vestas protest

RMT wins no compulsory redundancy position but future battles loom


Marxist analysis: history

Marxists and the Second World War


International socialist news and analysis

Return of al-Magrahi to Libya ignites a political storm

Northern Ireland: Councillor joins Socialist Party


Education

Failing academies


Socialist Party review

City of Life and Death


 

Facebook   Twitter



Home   |   The Socialist 9 September 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Bookshop






Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter



Related links:

Japan:

triangleCameron 'kowtows' to Chinese dictatorship

triangleJapan's 'Abenomics'

triangleThe consequences of the earthquake disaster in Japan

triangleNuclear power, no way!

China:

triangleInternational news in brief

triangle125 years of May Day: Learn lessons of past struggles

triangleChina: feminists released

triangleWorld economy - heading for the junkyard

War:

triangleTen years since the London 7/7 bombings

triangleTerrorist attacks: working class people pay the price

triangle1945 - when Britain said no to Churchill

Rape:

triangleTV review: Suffragettes Forever!

triangleFight gender, caste and class oppression!

International

International

1/7/15

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks: working class people pay the price

24/6/15

LGBT

International news in brief

24/6/15

Syriza

Greece: Syriza backtracks

22/6/15

Brazil

Brazil: Reinstate Marzeni - Solidarity needed

17/6/15

Socialist

International news in brief

17/6/15

Turkey

Turkey: historic breakthrough for left

10/6/15

Kshama Sawant

900 attend rally to re-elect Kshama Sawant!

10/6/15

Syriza

Greece: Crunch time for Syriza?

3/6/15

Spain

Spain: left 'popular unity' lists win key victories

3/6/15

Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan students protest

3/6/15

Sri Lanka

Britain: end deportations - solidarity needed

3/6/15

Chile

Chile: 200,000 protest in Santiago

27/5/15

Greece

Greece: subordination to or rupture with austerity?

27/5/15

Chile

A new chapter in Chile's political crisis

20/5/15

US

US: Bernie Sanders calls for 'political revolution'

triangleMore International articles...

triangle1 Jul How to fight the anti-union laws

triangle1 Jul Union plans transport shutdowns

triangle1 Jul Pride: we need politics, not just a parade

triangle1 Jul Terrorist attacks: working class people pay the price

triangle30 Jun Solidarity with Greek workers! Reject EU austerity

triangle24 Jun Youth Fight Austerity!

triangle24 Jun Protests against fracking: Stop drill permits!

More ...

triangle4 Jul NSSN 9th annual conference Fight austerity! Fight anti-union laws!


triangle5 Jul Socialist Party LGBT meeting

triangle7 Jul Derby Socialist Party: The Greek referendum - what will come after?

triangle7 Jul Harrogate Socialist Party: Building socialism in the US

More ...

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Find us on Facebook

Archive

Categories

1-9 

1-9 


Archives:

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice