The Forty Nine Day Memorial mourns for Nanking

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“Those who hope for hope—after an eternity—are entitled to do so only if they have measured that which has the power to obscure hope… But we must not make
that journey too quickly. We must linger with this staring point and not rush on too soon, seeking relief from its horror. How long must we linger? An eternity, perhaps.” – Robert Brown in the preface to Night.

Based on the same book by Yan Geling as The Flowers of War. The Forty Nine Day Memorial 四十九日·祭  will air in time for first National Mourning Day of the Nanking Massacre.  Featuring the younger Song Jia, Hu Ge, Zhang Jiayi, and Zhang Xinyi (the same girl from the film), the adaptation is scripted by author Yan Geling and will follow more closely to the novel (i.e. without Batman the random white savior).   Director Zhang Li is known for his critical and nuanced treatment of history through masterpieces like  Ming Dynasty 1566 大明王朝1566 and The Road to the Republic 走向共和. Given that I’ve burst into tears every time I’ve seen a trailer, we’ll see if I can last the series.  The series airs on December 1st.

 A compilation of trailers:

Weibo Wednesday: April 17-24

Celebrities flocked to Weibo this week in order to call followers’ attention to the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Ya’an on April 20th. Whether it was sharing ways to help, urging fans to donate their money or time, or simply posting words of comfort, a bunch of stars made noteworthy Weibo posts. We unfortunately can’t reproduce all of them, but hopefully we’ve gotten some of the more memorable ones.

Please keep the people of Ya’an in your thoughts!

何炅: 刚刚看到的图,和大家分享,我们为美丽的四川加油!

Not sure who first came up with the idea for this photo, but He Jiong posted it on his Weibo, along with a message of support:

I just saw this picture, and want to share it with everyone. Let’s jiayou for the beautiful Sichuan!

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Throwback: “The Flowers of War” brings out the worst of Western media

Cfensi is   gradually working on uploading posts from the dramaaddicts site to our current WordPress platform (you can find these recovered posts by looking at cfensistaff posts here). Most will be filed under their original publish date (example: idarklight’s Starry Night post), but some photo shoots are pretty enough to warrant a “re-run.” What were your favorite stars doing 2-3 years ago? 

For a film meant to be about “human benevolence, salvation and also love, “The Flowers of War 金陵十三钗 is getting a lot of hate from Western press. Not satisfied with brushing it off as an “anti-Japanese propaganda” that fails to add nuances to the Japanese soldiers,  some presses go so far as to questioning and whitewashing the event itself, whose 74th anniversary is today.

In a Sina interview, director Zhang Yimou said that just like Americans do not film WWII films to stir up anti-German sentiments, he films not to cause hate but to promote peace. “Be it WWI or WWII, there are so many war stories that everyone’s filming… These films are filmed for today’s viewers, and their ultimate goals are not to tell history…  but to appreciate the peace of today.” And anyone who’s seen Zhang’s films will believe him, because his films have almost always been about the human experience over politics.

The English-speaking press, most of whom have never seen the film, thinks otherwise.  Jonathan Landreth at the AFP skillfully uses the title “Christian Bale denies his Chinese film is propaganda” followed by the statement that the film is one of “a string of films and TV series from China promoting national unity against an evil Japan.” Landreth must have be well-versed in how propaganda works because he’s excellent at making falsehoods true  – first make an arbitrary accusation, then make the accusation’s denial the headline, and finally affirm the accusation as fact without any evidence whatsoever.

Laurie Burkitt and Tom Orlik at the WSJ, who seems to have actually seen the film, complain that “nuanced treatment of the Chinese characters is in stark contrast with portrayal of the Japanese as monochrome monsters.” Do these people not realize the immorality that comes from humanizing (aka: finding excuses) for rapists and mass murderers? Maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason why we don’t expect films with good Japanese soldiers during the Nanking massacres, just like how we don’t expect there to be good Nazis in a Holocaust movie.

AFP obvious did expect some savior rapist to show up, because it blames the lack of such a role to propaganda of the event in the Chinese education system, because of course, if they had instead followed the Japanese education system, the very perpetrators of rape and murder would’ve simply be brave soldiers worthy of worship. Japanese researchers calls the event the “Nanking Incident,” and Japanese prime ministers continues to pay tribute to WWII war criminials who have been covicted of crimes against humanity.

AFP reduces the number killed from hundreds of thousands  to “tens of thousands.” BBC chose to make fact the lowest estimate within the reasonable range, saying it’s “150,000 by international observers,” by which they probably meant “Japanese researchers”  because the Allied tribunal had estimated had estimated 200,000, the in-residence Australian journalist Harold Timperley estimated 300,000,  and the Japanese ambassador to Germany had estimated 500,000.

To give all sides equal view, though, Ben Blanchard at Reuters doesn’t forget to add that “some Japanese historians say the massacre has been exaggerated and some conservatives deny there was even a massacre” without pointing out that no one rational, Chinese or Japanese, actually believes those right wing nut-heads who deny the event.

Furthermoreboth the AFP and the LA Times fail to mention the rape and torture involved in addition to the massacre. There’s a reason why the event is also called “The Rape of Nanking,” and to disregard these horrors is to either assume them as normal activities of war or denying their existence.

It’s tragic that such an important movie that hope to bring light one of the many tragedies of human society is brushed off as propaganda.  Like with individuals, we often blame the victims rather than the rapists.  Instead of asking “how could you have done this?” to the criminal, the reporters instead ask the questions “what did you do to deserve this?” to the victim, as if the actions of the victims justified the wrongs done to them. No human beings nor any group of people deserves something like this to happen to them, no matter what he or she or they may have done in the past.  Just because China doesn’t have a clean slate (does anyone?) doesn’t mean innocent children deserves to be raped and killed.

In the film tribute to Iris Chang, the theme song spoke of the duty of a real journalist –  to “give voice to the voiceless.” These journalists are doing exactly the opposite –  silencing the voiceless, those whose stories have not been told and whose woes are not acknowledged – and that’s an act as despicable as the war crimes themselves.

sources:  AFP via YahooLATimesWSJReutersGlobal Times

Christian Bale and Zhang Yimou featured on Hollywood Reporter

Christian Bale and Zhang Yimou
Bale and Zhang shares tales of bonding and awkwardness.

As December finally comes, the long-silent The Flowers of War finally begins its promotions.   The December issue of The Hollywood Reporter features an interview with directorZhang Yimou and actor Christian Bale.   See some highlights below, and read the entire story, with an especially important discussion on Chinese – Hollywood crossovers, here.

Zhang talks about what attracted him to this story, and the process of making it.

“The story of the Rape of Nanking has been told before in films, and is a very political and serious subject,” Zhang says, “but what intrigued me about this story was that it’s actually told from the female perspective, so it’s more humane and has a personal touch.”

The movie’s original title was The Heroes of Nanking, but it was changed midstream to emphasize the female aspect of the storyline.

Zhang researched the Rape of Nanking for more than three years, and some of the film’s more graphic scenes were drawn from actual photographs, while the movie itself was based on Geling Yan’s novel The 13 Women of Nanjing.

The story also tells of how the two came to work together –  Bale was recommended to Zhang Yimou by former Universal studio chief David Linde and director Steven Spielberg. (more…)