Monday, October 3, 2011

9-30-11: Come and See The City of Life and Death

The New Beverly ran a double feature of these two epic war films.

THE CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH (2009) *** D: Chuan Lu. Yuanyuan Gao, Hideo Nakaizumi, Wei Fan

In 1937, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese army laid siege to China's capital city, Nanking and the "Nanking Massacre" began.

This film dramatizes the events of the Nanking Massacre. The film follows soldiers on both sides as well as the civilians that are caught in the middle.

At the risk of sounding insensitive, this film didn't entirely work for me. The atrocities as depicted in the film are laid on so thick to the point that they come off as shock value instead of brutal human drama. Okay here's the scene where they mow people down, okay here's the scene where they rape women, okay here's the scene where people are being herded to points unknown.

Unfortunately many of the scenes came off as just that, scenes instead of a depiction of a historical event.

It may be worth a look but I'm sure there are documentaries out there with more weight.

COME AND SEE (1985) ***** D: Elem Klimov. Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova.

During WWII, a Belorussian boy desperately wants to join the army and fight for his country. Nothing could have prepared him, or the audience, for the harrowing, terrifying, brutal reality that unfolds around him.

One amazing scene follows another as this boy's innocence is ripped from him as he is thrust into a nightmare that is not easily shaken. The progression of the film starts innocently enough but as it goes on the harsh reality starts creeping in and there is no escaping it.

The performances are stellar. The sheer terror in the boy's face during one of the film's most haunting scenes is a sight to behold.

There isn't much more to say except to say go and see "Come and See".

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