12 August 2012

Movies: The Flowers of War

The Flowers of War (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1410063/

Fictionalized Historical Drama

Set during the Rape of Nanking in 1937, American mortician John Miller entered the city to bury a recently deceased priest that lies in state a church. Dodging stray gunfire and escaping pursuit by Japanese soldiers he stumbles upon and is able to safely deliver two student girls back to the church. Once there he finds more girls hiding in the church, along with the priest's adopted son George.  John just wants to bury the priest and be on his way, however a stray mortar had already landed on the priest's body and blew it away, so John decides to stay the night and try to head back to the safe area the next day.  A bunch of local prostitutes make their way in to the church grounds to hide from the Japanese soldiers and George hides them in the church's basement. When the Japanese soldiers storm the church John decides to pose as the priest to turn the soldiers away and protect the schoolgirls.

I'm not sure what the "based on true events" announcement at the start of the film entails, if it is just the historical context or if an American mortician did actually pretend to be a priest and step in to save a dozen schoolgirls, or what. Regardless, it is a good story.

Christian Bale plays John Miller, the rest of the cast are Chinese and Japanese folk. Bale and some of the cast speak English, but other conversations are in Chinese or Japanese with subtitles.
This also marks the second film that I know of that involves Christian Bale playing a character in China when the Japanese come ripping through. The first being the very good "Empire of the Sun". If Bale has been in more, I dunno.

A very good film. Plenty of tension and drama. Technical aspects of the film: sets, direction, lighting, costumes, sound, etc. are all excellent as well. Definitely worth watching.

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