• At any time of the day, a good movie with popcorn or beer is a welcome pleasure.

    The Flowers of War (2011): Movie Review

    Rape. Murder. Brutality. Survival. These are the elements which form part of the tragic “Rape of Nanking” in 1937. And this is the story depicted in the 2011 top-grossing film “The Flowers of War”. Combining breath-taking scenery, good-looking casts, and haunting suspense, the movie is certainly one of China’s pride in the recent years. 

    The Flowers of War is a 2011 Chinese historical drama war film directed by Zhang Yimou. Based on Yan Geling’s novel, “13 Flowers of Nanjing,” the movie is a story of the heartbreaks and struggles of a group of escapees during the “Rape of Nanking” – a mass murder and war rape during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Main cast of the movie consists of Christian Bale, breakout artist Ni Ni, Zhang Xinyi, Tong Dawei,  Atsuro Watabe, Shigeo Kobayashi, Han Xiting, and Cao Kefan. 

    Plot. The movie opens with chaos all over Nanking, China’s capital city during that time. It is December 1937 and the Japanese Imperial Army is bombing and invading the city. Desperate civilians are running everywhere, dodging the war bullets and looking for safety in the torn buildings. Amidst the turmoil, American mortician John Miller (played by Bale) arrives in Nanking as he is commissioned to bury the foreign head priest of a convent for Catholic Chinese girls. He meets two of the girls along the way, and with their guidance, he arrives at the convent only to discover that the priest’s body was flown away by a bomb.

    A short time after his arrival, a group of dashing and beautiful prostitutes from a local red-light district come to the convent. They seek refuge and hide in the cellar as foreigners and foreign institutions are not harassed by the Japanese. Despite the urgings of George, the convent caretaker and the resident priest’s adopted son, Miller refuses to protect the church as he sees no obligation in staying here. However, he changes heart as the convent is repeatedly visited by Japanese soldiers searching for females to rape and thus, he poses as the priest. Miller is also being secretly helped by a surviving Chinese soldier who hides behind the rubbles outside the convent. Yet, he sacrifices himself later when the Japanese attempts to invade the area.

    After one incident, Japanese Colonel Hasegawa promises to protect them by placing guards in front of the gate. Miller has second thoughts about this, and with the help of one of the girls’ father, he starts to repair the convent’s truck in the hope he can find opportunity to bring the girls and the courtesans out of Nanking. But Miller’s plans are soon jeopardized when, after Hasegawa hears the girls sing a choral for him, the colonel hands him an official invitation for the girls to sing at the Japanese Army’s victory. Fearing their safety and doubting the Japanese’s true motives behind the invitation, Miller refuses and begs the colonel to spare the girls. However, Hasegawa informs him that it is an order from the higher authorities and that the girls are to be fetched the next day. The Japanese soldiers count the girls and erroneously include one of the prostitutes, who strayed from the cellar searching for her cat. 



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