The Flowers of War (Jin líng shí san chai) (15)
17 August - 23 August 2012
Master of spectacle Zhang Yimou (Raise The Red Lantern, Hero, House of Flying Daggers) was chosen by the Chinese government as the man to oversee the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With The Flowers of War he turns his skills to a more sombre subject: the Nanjing Massacre. It tells the inspirational story of a foreigner who became the unlikely protector of the local people against an invading enemy.
In 1937, Nanjing stands at the forefront of a war between China and Japan. As the invading Japanese Imperial Army overruns China's capital city, desperate civilians seek refuge behind the nominally protective walls of a western cathedral. Here, John Miller (Christian Bale), an American trapped amidst the chaos of battle and the ensuing occupation, takes shelter. He is joined by a group of innocent schoolgirls and 13 courtesans, equally determined to escape the horrors taking place outside the church walls. Struggling to survive the violence and persecution wrought by the Japanese army, an act of heroism eventually leads the seemingly disparate group to fight back, risking their lives for the sake of everyone.
China's Academy Award entry for Best Foreign Language Film, The Flowers of War is based on a novel by Geling Yan. It still bears all the hallmarks of a Zhang Yimou film – lyrical and visceral while remaining a poignant tale of forgotten people and human sacrifice.