City of Life and Death takes place in 1937, during the height of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Imperial Japanese Army has just captured the then-capital of the Republic of China, Nanjing. What followed was known as the Nanking Massacre, or the Rape of Nanking, a period of several weeks wherein tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed. The film tells the story of several figures, both historical and fictional, including a Chinese soldier, a schoolteacher, a Japanese soldier, a foreign missionary, and John Rabe, a Nazi businessman who would ultimately save thousands of Chinese civilians. —IMDb
Lu Chuan (born 1970) is a Chinese filmmaker and screenwriter. He is the son of the novelist, Lu Tianming.
Educated at the People’s Liberation Army International Relations University in Nanjing, Lu spent two years serving in the Army as a secretary to a general. After his time in the army, Lu attended the Beijing Film Academy for a masters degree in directing. While there, he studied the works of his favorite directors including Ingmar Bergman, Jim Jarmusch, and Pier Paolo Pasolini. His dissertation was on the American filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.
Hailed as a major new voice in Chinese cinema, Lu’s first two films were small-budget productions which garnered both Chinese and international acclaim: 2002’s The Missing Gun and 2004’s Kekexili: Mountain Patrol. Kekexili won both a Golden Rooster and a Golden Horse best picture award.
Lu’s most recent film, the war drama City of Life and Death, was released in April 2009 to both critical and commercial success. At… read more
The movie was expertly crafted and leaves a haunting impression; however, in comparison to first-hand accounts of the Rape of Nanjing, it was extremely tame in its depiction of the massacre, and at times a bit too sympathetic to the Japanese. That being said, the film's depiction of the violence still isn't for the easily disturbed.
Incredible story based on true events. Most profound War story I have seen in a long time. The action and audio of combat is TOO real. Surprisingly even handed treatment of the things soldiers do in war. The black and white is lucious. This is a superior film from the people's republic.
A shocking indictment of the Japanese past and a shocking indictment of human beings in general this brutal telling of the Nanking massacres and invasion is an incredibly impressive third feature by Lu Chuan. Beautifully filmed, viscerally captured and astonishingly evocative this is a kick to the guts and a punch in the face for filmgoers. Outstanding filmmaking.
Followups to The Housemaid and City of Life and Death.
"Lu Chuan's City of Life and Death has the title and the feel of a monument," writes J Hoberman in the Voice. "This widescreen, austerely monochromatic
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It’s interesting to contrast City of Life and Death (南京! 南京!) with older Chinese films about the war. Other reviewers have already pointed out how humanized the Japanese characters are, and it’s certainly… read review
City of Life and Death (also known as 南京! 南京!) is beautifully shot, aptly structured and on the whole cinematically sound, but I find the film’s content most problematic.
Firstly, the film falls… read review
My first film of the festival was City of Life and Death, which was absolutely stunning. Shot in black and white, the film looks gorgeous. Each shot could be a photograph. This is all in great contrast… read review