Friday, January 18, 2013

"The Flowers of War" with Christian Bale (2012)

In 1937 the Japanese Imperial Army set its sights on Nanking, China. The “rape” of Nanking is one of the most brutal atrocities committed by the Japanese forces as the made their way across the Far East. In the midst of all the carnage; when everyone was looking out for themselves and trying to escape the Japanese onslaught; there were few heroes. This film tells the story of one of those men; an American mercenary, played by Christian Bale; who has a chance to leave the war ravaged province, but chooses to remain.

While hiding from the Japanese, he comes upon some schoolgirls who are trying desperately to make it to the Catholic cathedral. Together they reach the sanctuary, only to discover that the Priest has fled, leaving his parishioners, and the girls, alone. To complicate matters a group of prostitutes, or “flower girls”, show up at the church seeking sanctuary. This is okay with the people inside the church, but infuriates the Japanese, who then surround the church, laying siege to it.

Posing as the absent Priest; and using every ounce of courage to obtain food and fuel so that the girls might live, the group is ultimately faced with a stark choice; only the surrender of the prostitutes to the Japanese will save the girls. Of course, this means brutal treatment and most likely death to the flower girls. Recognizing their position, the “flower girls” come to the only conclusion possible; they sacrifice themselves to the fate of Japanese captivity, giving the girls their only chance to survive.

Brilliant and sensitive performances; along with realistic set designs; make this film a stark reminder of war and the choices we are sometimes forced into making in order to maintain our own humanity. In the face of overwhelming odds, these are not always easy choices to make. 

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