Critics Consensus

This powerful and horrific documentary brings the atrocities committed at Nanking to light without sugarcoating any of the brutality.



Total Count: 46


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,298
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Movie Info

Filmmaker Bill Guttentag takes a closer look at the atrocities committed by the Japanese after Nanking fell to the Imperial Japanese Army in 1937 with this documentary that was inspired by Iris Chang's novel The Rape of Nanking. Compiled from over 700 hours of footage including news-reel footage, interviews with survivors and soldiers, and staged readings, Nanking was financed in large by millionaire Ted Leonsis, who had read Chang's obituary and subsequently been prompted to read the author's best-selling account of the massacre.

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Critic Reviews for Nanking

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (18)

  • 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.

    Apr 13, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Sheds light on particular wartime atrocities largely neglected in the collective memory.

    Feb 1, 2008 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Feb 1, 2008 | Rating: 3/4
  • 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.

    Jan 17, 2008 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 11, 2008 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 11, 2008 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Nanking

  • Nov 02, 2015
    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.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 17, 2011
    Straightforward and to the point, this documentary on the seldom heard Nanking atrocities is as intelligent as it is well made.
    Dillon L Super Reviewer
  • Dec 31, 2007
    Talking-head format robs actions both harrowing and heroic of their full impact.
    William G Super Reviewer
  • Dec 25, 2007
    [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]
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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