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This powerful and horrific documentary brings the atrocities committed at Nanking to light without sugarcoating any of the brutality.
All Critics (46)
| Top Critics (18)
| Fresh (44)
| Rotten (2)
| DVD (2)
The lesson here is not simply to vilify the Japanese soldiers of that era, but to make sure that we never forget who we are and what our country stands for today.
Sheds light on particular wartime atrocities largely neglected in the collective memory.
Nanking doesn't tell us why decency and compassion completely break down from time to time. It just tells us something terribly modern and all too familiar.
Anyone who sees Nanking should know going in what a brutal story it is, but no one should miss it because of a restrictive rating.
Nanking does justice to this tragedy even though it makes the mistake of mixing the testimony of actual participants with staged readings from actors subbing for real people.
The filmmakers employ a powerful technique of interspersing newsreel footage with wrenching on-camera interviews of survivors and sequences of actors reciting from the letters and memoirs of the Westerners on the scene.
This painful documentary ends on a hopeful note, although with a clear view of the cloud over human nature.
A noble effort, but a flawed delivery. The film would benefit from more time spent with the real survivors, and less with actors tasked with "playing" the Western saviors.
Living through a screening of ... the 1937/8 Japanese invasion, devastation and occupation of Nanking creates a fervent wish to have nothing o do with our membership cards in the homo sapiens species.
A deft and dramatic melding of talking-head documentary, historic photos and film footage and readings by a cast of actors, the film is a devastating depiction of man's inhumanity to man. It is also about how some of us are brave enough to say 'No.'
Nanking bombards you with words and images of acts too barbaric to fully absorb.
Nanking is a sometimes clumsy and sometimes artistically flawed documentary but in the end it presents a powerful account of what happened in Nanking at the end of 1937 and beginning of 1938.
The presentation here is at first questionable. It begins with a look behind the wizard's curtain and we are shown a bit about how what we are about to see was constructed, recreated. But then the actual documentary, like a roller coaster at the apex of the highest point, truly begins, and the mere facts of this story alone are enough to terrify. The pictures serve to put you in the place, allows one to see with one's own eyes, even though you become increasingly aware that the producers have wisely chosen not to show all of what was committed in China then. Not for the faint of heart this. Two eyewitness accounts will burn into your memory forever.
Straightforward and to the point, this documentary on the seldom heard Nanking atrocities is as intelligent as it is well made.
Talking-head format robs actions both harrowing and heroic of their full impact.
[font=Century Gothic]"Nanking" is a devastating documentary about the 1937 occupation and rape of Nanking(it is estimated there were 20,000 rapes in the first month) by the Japanese army.(I had heard this event mentioned on occasion but never seen it documented with this level of detail.) A group of Westerners stayed past the evacuations on a mission of mercy, setting up a safety zone in an attempt to save as many civilians as they can.(They saved as many as 250,000 people.) Among their number, were a group of Americans and one Nazi businessman, John Rabe.(On the one hand, Rabe being a part of this courageous humanitarian mission is beyond irony. But his petitiioning his government for help does present new evidence into the debate of what the German people knew and when did they know it.) Of particular concern were former Chinese troops who were being summarily executed and of course any women.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Along with archival and newswreel footage, interviews with Chinese survivors and Japanese soldiers involved in the atrocities, the movie has actors including Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway, Jurgen Prochnow, Chris Mulkey, Rosalind Chao, Stephen Dorff, and Mark Valley read testimony from the observers straight to the camera.(They felt that if their testimony could be heard by the outside world, then pressure could be applied to stop the atrocities, especially by the Japanese public but it does not seem likely since they were stirred into a militaristic and patriotic fervor by their dictatorial government.) It does take a little while to get used to this technique but it is as effective as everything else in this superb antiwar film. [/font]
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