The Flowers of War
From internationally celebrated director Zhang Yimou (Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, Hero, House Of Flying Daggers) comes a story of love and war - and a band of outcasts who emerge as unlikely heroes from the shadows of a city's occupation. At once lyrical and visceral, the film enters the apocalyptic world of Nanjing in 1937 only to find a vibrant human story about the invisible people of the city and a series of unexpected relationships that lead to a resonant act of sacrifice.
It begins when the danger in the streets of Nanjing throws together a group of opposites --a flock of shell-shocked school children, a dozen seductive courtesans, and a renegade American (Academy Award winner Christian Bale, The Fighter, The Dark Knight) posing as a priest to save his own skin, or so he thinks - all seeking safety behind a walled cathedral. Trapped by marauding soldiers, over the next few days the prejudices and divides between them will fall away as they unite around a last-ditch plan to protect the children from impending catastrophe.
Shot over 5 1/2 months in the most extensive production ever undertaken in China, the film recreates the reality of Nanjing after Japanese troops invaded the Chinese city, setting off one of the most shocking episodes of civilian suffering in the modern history of war. Yet THE FLOWERS OF WAR is not so much about the deadly battles in the street as it is about all the life that continues to go on behind the closed doors of a city in hiding.
Joining Christian Bale and leading lady Ni Ni is a cast that also includes 13-year-old Zhang Xinyi in her film debut as the narrator Shu; newcomer Huang Tianyuan as George, the boy who takes it upon himself to protect the school girls after the death of the local priest; Tong Dawei (Apple; Red Cliff) as Major Li, a war-weary soldier determined to save the life of a wounded compatriot; Atsuro Watabe (A Quiet Life / Shizukana Seikatsu) as Colonel Hasegawa, commander of the occupying Japanese army; Shigeo Kobayashi (Todai) as Lt. Kato, his ruthless sidekick, and popular Chinese television presenter, Cao Kefan, as Mr. Meng, a Chinese civilian who will do anything to save the life of his young daughter.