Tuesday, July 24, 2012

31. Nanking (2007) *

Made in the same year as the Iris Chang film mentioned in an earlier post, Nanking (2007) is a movie based on Chang's bestseller The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust.  Directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, the movie tells the story of the atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese military in Nanking, China. 

The documentary details the evacuation of Nanking by wealthy Chinese and by foreigners living in Nanking.  Some Westerners decided not to leave, just as some Chinese stayed in the town unable to leave their elderly parents and sick children.  Despite Japanese refusal, a two mile Safety Zone was established by an international committee comprised of Americans and Nazis.  The Americans and Germans housed the Chinese and helped to protect them. However this safety zone was unable to prevent the massacre, pillaging and rape which took place in 1937. 

The film contains a mix of footage from the time, interviews with survivors of the Rape of Nanking (some survivors also appear in the Iris Chang documentary) and fictionalised accounts of the atrocities in mockumentary style by actors narrating the story.  The  actors playing the role of real life persons include Woody Harrelson (mentioned in the post on Welcome to Sarajevo) as Bob Wilson and the German actor Jurgen Prochnow as John Rabe.  Chinese American actors include Rosalind Chao, Michelle Krusiec and Robert Wu.  

In the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, General Iwane Matsui was indicted and convicted for war crimes committed during the Rape of Nanking.  In the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal set up by the government of Chiang Kai-Shek in 1946, General Hisano Tani and three others were prosecuted and sentenced to death for their roles in the Rape of Nanking. Despite these prosecutions at the time, Nanking was a 'forgotten'  massacre until the publication of Chang's book.  It is hoped that these documentaries and renewed interest will ensure that Nanking gets the prominence it deserves in the study of international criminal justice. 

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