City of Life and Death

Film, Drama
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars
In 1937, facing an advancing Japanese army, the Chinese government withdrew from the then capital Nanking (now known as Nanjing). Although some in Japan still dispute the facts, the ensuing occupation saw the Japanese military shooting many thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians and committing rape on a massive scale, while the populace took refuge in the diplomatic quarter. Filmed in black-and-white on huge sets recreating the bomb-blasted city, Lu Chuan’s dramatised account lacks nothing in vividness, elaborating the scale of the atrocities through witnesses on both sides. With a key role for a Japanese soldier disgusted by the carnage, the film discerns the humanity of patriots and enemy alike, though the emphasis is on the heroic sacrifices of the Chinese. Even if the characterisation is a shade too generic to engage the emotions, and it’s hard to respond to savagery on this scale, the fact that these events are being brought to light with such care makes this a significant film – though not a great one.

By: Trevor Johnston



Release details

Release date:
Friday April 16 2010
136 mins

Cast and crew

Lu Chuan
Liu Ye
Gao Yuanyuan
Hideo Nakaizumi
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