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3. The Flowers of War|
Billed as the "most expensive Chinese film ever" and starring Oscar-winning actor Christian Bale, Zhang Yimou's new war epic "The Flowers of War" takes audiences back to the anguish of the notorious Nanjing Massacre, which took place starting on Dec. 13, 1937.
Adapted from writer Yan Geling's novel, Zhang's film is unique in that it explores territory as yet untouched by other directors. The story focus on how 14 prostitutes, along with surviving Chinese schoolgirls and a voluptuary-turned-saint American mortician John Miller (Christian Bale), hid behind the nominally protective walls of a western cathedral during the Japanese occupation of Nanjing. In order to protect innocent young girls from being raped and killed, the prostitutes sacrifice themselves, potentially finding salvation in death.
Zhang and his team spent 600 million yuan (US$94.5 million) on this powerful and deeply emotional film. "The Flowers of War" is a Hollywood-class production, complete with battle scenes, tragedy, sex, vivid colors and raw emotion, all of which Zhang has long depicted with aplomb. He is trying to prove that a universal value exists: During hard times, even the humblest person can do noble deeds. Humanity can shine through the darkness.
The Nanjing Massacre, which claimed over 300,000 lives, will forever be a painful memory for Chinese as well as source of inspiration for filmmakers. Delicately crafted and artistically produced, "The Flowers of War" ends up being an entertaining but somewhat unconvincing story. The film's look into the unspeakable acts committed at Nanjing will surely arouse deep emotions among viewers. But the true history of the massacre is even thicker, darker and more desperate than audiences will witness on the silver screen. Nonetheless, this film, with its depth, beauty and agony, might just end up being Zhang's most successful blockbuster film of the last decade.