Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Flowers of War

Finally got around to watching Zhang Yimou's The Flowers of War, the biggest-earning Chinese film of last year. It's based on the book 13 Flowers of Nanjing by the Chinese-American author, Geling Yan, and is set during the rape of Nanjing in 1937. It's pretty graphic and has provoked inevitable controversy - although I have to say that if you're going to make a film about what was undeniably an appalling atrocity then the Japanese are going to come out badly. 
The casting of Christian Bale in the lead role suggests international box office aspirations although it didn't make the shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars (actually, half of it's in English) and I don't think it did that well outside China. It's beautifully shot - perhaps overly so - and the 13 prostitutes somehow look perfect throughout it all, and I don't really buy the ending... But what saves it is the acting, particularly the young convent girls. What next for Zhang? 

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