Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nanking - 被遺忘的一九三七

Nanking (被遺忘的一九三七) is a 2007 film documenting the 1937 Nanking Massacre in Nanjing, China.

The film revolves around the formation of the Nanking Safety Zone set up by foreign missionaries, professors, and businessmen that did not flee when the Japanese started its seige on Nanjing in 1937. The style of the film is contemporary actors reading (facing the screen) letters, journal entries of highlighted characters. They include readings from the non-Chinese, Chinese, and Japanese readings. Interwoven into these readings are interviews with survivors of the Nanking Massacre and Japanese soldiers. Footage and pictures are prominently added during the readings.

I've known about the Nanking Massacre since the 90s when I saw "Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre" out of Hong Kong (I am actually guessing that's the film I watched as I don't remember it too well). I was shocked and angry at the brutally of war. In recent years, its been a subject that's come up a few times. Including the movie Tokyo Trial with Ken Chu and Kelly Lin. The 2005 Japanese Textbook Controversy that sparked demonstrations in China. Around that same time, "The Rape of Nanking" was getting a second wind of sorts because of this.

I was a little apprehensive about watching this as its a very serious subject matter and talks about lot of suffering. War is never a easy thing, especially the suffering that it brings to the areas affected. In my lifetime, I've not experienced war or conditions remotely close to it. So, I have no context to wrap my feeling around. I've lived in the comforts of Los Angeles since the age of 4. I had to remind myself that the anger and sadness I felt of the events are valid, but not based on anything I've experienced. It was the Japanese soldiers and army in that era and time of war that allowed it to happen. It is not the Japanese people. Just as the PRC is not representative of the Chinese as a people, but the governing party of China.

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