Nanking (2007)

THE SCOOP
Director: Bill Guttentag/Dan Sturman
Plot: The story of the rape of Nanking, one of the most tragic events in history.

Genre: Documentary
Awards: -
Runtime: 88min
Rating: NC16 for disturbing images and descriptions of wartime atrocities, including rape.

TRAILER:

IN RETROSPECT

Nearly seven decades after what was deemed one of the most despicable and inhumane acts ever inflicted by Man on fellow men, the issue of ‘the rape of Nanking’ has neither been justifiably debated nor has it been sufficiently brought to rest. The spectres of the massacre still live among us, refusing to be appeased. The next couple of years will see a spate of documentaries and feature films depicting one way or another on the subject.
Nanking is the first to tackle the issue, its aim to separate fact from fiction.

Nanking
allows us to view the horrendous events in chronological order, an effective method that is both clear and concise. Using first-hand accounts of survivors as well as real footages of war crimes committed, viewers get a bitter taste of what’s like during arguably the darkest period in modern Chinese history. The subject matter remains overwhelmingly depressing, despite the efforts of the filmmakers in introducing another aspect of the Nanking story – great Westerners who banded together in a successful bid to save as many Chinese from intolerable suffering as possible.

Nanking
could have been an influential film; however it lets itself down in crucial areas – narrative technique and pacing. Using actors to impersonate the abovementioned heroes by gathering them together in a room to account for their experiences of the Nanking massacre is a bad move by the filmmakers. It loses its credible touch even before the final third and with the combination of poor pacing, results in a documentary that’s one of the weakest of 2007. No doubt it’s an important and timely film, but I would rather have Michael Moore anytime.

SCORE: 6.5/10

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