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Christian Bale to star in Zhang Yimou’s Nanking Massacre Film

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According to the AP, “Christian Bale will star in Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s new project about 13 young prostitutes who help save compatriots from Japanese troops rampaging Nanjing, the latest film exploring a World War II-era atrocity that stirs nationalism in China.

Bale, currently co-starring in the boxing drama “The Fighter,” will portray an American priest in the movie, which is expected to start filming in Nanjing on Jan. 10, the Chinese director told reporters Wednesday." 

The film is based on Yan Geling’s short novel “The 13 beauties of Jinling,” and focuses on the story of a group of prostitutes, a group of wounded soldiers, 46 convent girls and a Catholic priest hidden in a Catholic church in the midst of the Nanking Massacre. When the Japanese army finally knocks on the church’s doors to “invite” the convent girls to sing for them in their camp, the prostitutes chose to dress up as convent girls and go in their place.

While there have been several films on the Nanking Massacre made in the recent years, none of them have been up to par in quality. Hopefully, with his nuanced storytelling and skilled depiction of emotions, Zhang can finally produce a film as major as the event itself.


“Historians say the massacre, known in the West as the “Rape of Nanking,” resulted in the slaughter of at least 150,000 civilians. China puts the number killed at 300,000, making it one of the worst atrocities of the WWII era.

Bale was picked because of his versatility and dedication to his roles, Zhang said, noting he was impressed by the research Bale did into the history of the massacre.

“I gave him the names of some books that he should read about the Nanjing massacre,” the director said. “When I went to see him, I saw those books were lying open on his table, and I was very touched.”

The $90 million production is slated for global release next December. It’s being filmed with a mix of English and Chinese spoken.

The book’s title translates roughly as “The 13 Women of Nanjing” but the film is going by the working English title of “Nanjing Heroes.”

In making a movie about Japan’s wartime atrocities in Nanjing, Zhang joins several others in exploring a sensitive topic that triggers nationalist sentiments in China. Other recently released films about the Japanese invasion include Lu Chuan’s “City of Life and Death” and Florian Gallenberger’s “John Rabe.”

Zhang said he hopes to bring a fresh approach to the topic in telling the story through a woman’s perspective. He also hoped to enhance the foreign appeal by casting Bale, a Hollywood star who played Batman in “The Dark Knight.”

“We’ve made many, many Nanjing movies … but they are mostly like we’re talking to ourselves. A lot of young people in Western countries might not know about it,” Zhang said. “So I think that perhaps by doing it this way… could let maybe 100 or 200 million young audiences watch this film and maybe then they’ll know what happened in Nanjing in 1937.”

 

Can we get a Zhang Yimou tag, please?
source: Cfensi; Associated Press; The 13 beauties of Jinling (the title is a pun of the 12 beauties of Jinling from the Dream of the Red Chamber)

Tags: china, director: zhang yimou, foreign celeb, movie: flowers of war
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