City of Life and Death is a 2009 Chinese historical drama based on ‘Battle of Nanjing‘ and its aftermath which is famously known as Nanjing Massacre. The battle was fought in 1937 between Japan and China during 2nd Sino-Japanese War. When Japanese invaded the Nanjing city, they showed no mercy on Chinese as massacre began in next 6 weeks which included mass murders, human tortures, slavery and most specifically war rapes.
A German businessman and Nazi party member, John Rabe, ran Nanjing Safety Zone, where thousands of Chinese women, children, elders and wounded soldiers took refuge. This safety zone was created by International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone. Despite all the efforts, the Japanese soldiers forcefully entered the zone for raping Chinese female refugees. This was repeated numerous times as women later on decided to cut their hairs and dress like men to save their lives. Later on the Japanese officer ordered at least 100 women to join Japanese camps as ‘comfort women’. And the massacre moved on…
John Rabe got orders from Germany to return and stop his activities of running the safety zone. His secretary Tang left his daughter to die and sister-in-law rape. While leaving the zone, Tang, at the last moment decided to stay and let his wife move in order to make way for a Chinese soldier. Tang’s wife revealed she was pregnant and later on, Tang was executed.
Can’t believe that Chinese cinema can be up to a merit of amazing cinematic substance as brilliant direction and realistic screenplay saw the movie meeting commercial and international success. The movie won many international awards in film festivals. A terrific period masterpiece.