Wednesday, August 1, 2012

critique cache august: the flowers of war, by zhang yimou.

it's that time again: critique cache time! this month i am critiquing a film that justin & i watched a little under a month ago.

the flowers of war is a film depicting the horrors of the nanking massacre. not being much of a history buff myself, i am a bit embarrassed to say that, before this film, i wasn't really aquainted with what went on in this particular period of history; however, after viewing this film, i feel much more acquainted with the second sino-japanese war, which took place in 1937. that is to say, i am more acquainted with the senseless & horrific fates met by some of the most innocent & helpless of those involved: young children.

like so many other war films, this one begins on a battlefield. people are running & screaming, explosions are going off, & all the familiar trappings of a recreated war dance across the screen. it is only when the camera focuses on a group of young convent girls that things get especially interesting. horror runs high when you realize that the soldiers are leaving no person alive as they find them - not even the children. the group of girls from the convent do everything in their powers to stay together, but to no avail. they become separated, & some of them are met with a gristly fate.

those who survive, however, encounter an american mortician, john miller [christian bale], who - from the get-go - seems reluctant in his ability to provide any sort of haven for the endangered girls. as the group takes shelter in a catholic church, miller struggles as he is forced to come to terms with the reality of his being cast in the role as protector of so many innocent souls. and upon the arrival of a troupe of prostitutes from the red light district nearby, things get even more interesting in the way of dynamics. the conflicts set forth by the juxtaposition of two very different groups of girls provides undeniable entertainment.

as always, i don't wish to spoil any endings, but i will say that this movie was gripping & ultimately resulted in tears shed on my part. the sacrifices displayed, the loving humanity which emerges in a time of desperation, the surprising acts of charity... this is all the stuff of an afternoon well-spent in front of the television. if you - like me - enjoy the intrigue of history-based movies, but sometimes find yourself yawning inexplicably midway through, i can almost guarantee this particular film will hold your attention. it certainly held mine, & i absolutely feel the better for it.

disclaimer: this film contains extreme acts of violence & could certainly be too much for some viewers. there were times when i had to look away, but i am glad that i finished the film, because it was very moving.

view the trailer here.

before i re-watched the trailer i forgot the beauty & symbolism depicted by the beautiful stained glass window. it was an aspect of this film that i really enjoyed - the beauty of the glass, & the strangeness of this beautiful thing being those hiding in the church's portal through which to view the destruction of their city is an extremely powerful device.

all-in-all, i give it an A- [the minus is only there because of how intense i found some of the violence].

have you seen the flowers of war? what did you think?


now, it's your turn! link up below & tell me all about something you've experienced this month, be it a movie, a book, an album... did you love it? did you hate it? did you find it dull? irresistible? please share. i am always looking to expand my horizons & experience new media.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


the sunday currently, volume 125.

reading a mish-mash of things right now. I don't usually like to read more than one book at a time, but I am in a reading rut... and I...