Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Christian Bale Stars in China's Academy Award Entry: The Flowers of War


Updated: November 2017
Academy Award winner Christian Bale stars in China's foreign language entry at the Academy Awards. The  multi-lingual The Flowers of War will open "wide" in China on December 16th with premieres in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. The movie will also open sometime in late December in limited release in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York in order to meet the Academy's qualitfication requirements.  The film, which has concurrent Chinese and English subtitles, will then open in the U.S. in early 2012.
Directed by Yimou Zhang (Hero, House of Flying Daggers ) The Flowers of War is adapted from Geling Yan’s historical novel 13 Flowers of Nanjing. Bale stars as a mortician posing as a priest during the rape of Nanking; thank God he's just posing as a priest since a peek at the trailer shows a juicy love scene. I wonder if that is a cinematic addition that wasn't in the book? If so, thank you Zhang Yimou! But I digress ... when the war begins to intensify, Engelmann risks his own life to save young female students and courtesans. The film has an estimated budget of $100 million, big budget in any language but certainly huge for China...it's the biggest budget movie in the country's history!

Check out the trailer and read a synopsis of the book below.
In the states, the English language version of the book will be called The Flowers of War and according to Amazon will be released on February 28th, 2012. I've posted the publisher's description below and it sounds fabulous. The dilemma of course is that it sounds like I will have the opportunity to see the film before I read the book. Grrr. I really hate it when that happens. If you've read the historical fiction-based novel in the original Chinese, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Are you excited about the film? How about Bale as the mortician/priest? Does he fit what you imagined? I think Bale is brilliant, almost if not every time he's in a film - even when he plays Bruce Wayne - so I'm excited but I'd love to know what someone who has actually read the book thinks!
Here's the publisher's description. 
This moving short novel is based on true events that took place during the Nanjing Massacre in 1937 when the Japanese invaded the Chinese city, slaughtering not only soldiers but raping and murdering the civilian population as well. It tells the story of an American missionary who, for a few terrifying days, finds himself sheltering a group of schoolgirls, prostitutes and wounded Chinese soldiers in the compound of his church.
American priest Father Engelmann is one of the small group of Westerners who have remained in Nanjing, despite the approach of the Japanese. America is not yet in the war and so his church compound is supposedly neutral territory. However, his confidence in his ability to look after the Chinese schoolgirls left in his care is shaken when thirteen prostitutes from the floating brothel on the nearby Yangtze River climb over the compound wall and demand to be hidden. The situation becomes even more intense when some wounded Chinese soldiers appear. Meanwhile Engelmann is becoming increasingly aware of the barbaric behaviour of the Japanese outside the compound walls. It is only a matter of time before they knock on the door and find the people he is protecting.
Like Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française, this poignant book looks at the effect upon individuals of large-scale war and tragedy. The characters are beautifully observed. From the naive schoolgirls, the brazen prostitutes and the frightened soldiers to the slightly priggish priest and his resentful Chinese entourage. As the Japanese circle ever closer, the barriers of hatred and prejudice that separate the characters dissolve, and they perform unexpected and moving acts of heroism. Geling Yan, an important Chinese writer, reveals herself to be a master of detail and emotion in this novel. She recreates history as if it is unfolding before our eyes, and writes characters that are so engaging and so rich that we believe in them entirely. This is a novel full of humanity -- at its worst and at its best -- and a fascinating insight into 1930s China.

1 comment:

  1. Man, that guy can do anything. I might have to see even with half of it in subtitles.

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