Flowers of War (金陵十三钗) & City of Life and Death南京! 南京: Two Films One Story

Flowers of War (金陵十三钗) & City of Life and Death南京! 南京

Two films, one story

Zhang Yimou’s new film on the massacre in Nanjing, Flowers of War (金陵十三钗), is the second major Chinese production to hit international cinemas on this topic in the last few years, the other being Lu Chuan’s City of Life and Death (南京 南京). Having now seen both, I’ll try to compare and contrast them.

Both films are set during the early days of the Japanese conquest and occupation of Nanjing (南京) in 1937; Nanjing which was then the capital of the Republic of China. It was during this period that the Japanese committed the atrocities that were to become known as the “The Rape of Nanjing”. It is estimated that over 300,000 people were killed and thousands of women raped.

City of Life and Death(南京! 南京!) by  Lu Chuan

Filmed in black and white, Lu Chuan’s film conveys all the horrors and brutality of the destruction of Nanjing and its people under the Japanese occupation. Grey scene after scene, tense, gripping, and harrowing scene after scene, the spectator is left numb by the cruelty meted out by the Japanese army. The scene where the Japanese machine guns kill off the Chinese prisoners of war is horrific; yet, it represents the true events that took place on December 18, 1937, on the banks of the Yangtze River.

http://youtu.be/7hMfCfzBQxw

Nonetheless, in spite of the gruesomeness of his film, Continue reading “Flowers of War (金陵十三钗) & City of Life and Death南京! 南京: Two Films One Story”

China Film Festival Madrid (El Matadero)

China Film Festival (El Matadero, Madrid,  2 February to 14 March)

Apart from the exhibition, visitors to the Matadero can also take in one or two Chinese films or documentaries a day, in the small projection room to the right of the entrance. From Tuesday to Friday, the sessions are at 17.00 and at 19.30; on Saturdays they are at 12.00 and at 16.00; on Sundays sessions may be at 12.00, 14.00 or 16.00. Programmes are available at the reception desk, or on-line at the Casa Asia web site.

Here is an overview of the films we have managed to see so far:

The Road 芳香之路(2002, directed by Zhang Jiarui) is the moving coming-of-age story of a young girl, Li Chunfen, set against the Cultural Revolution of the 60’s and 70’s.

Li Chunfen is a sweet and naïve young girl works as a ticket seller on a bus driven by Lao Cui, a decent, quiet man and a model worker who has been praised by Chairman Mao himself. Every day, their trusty old bus travels the precarious mountain roads of eastern Yunnan, connecting isolated villages and providing a valuable life line. In the course of these travels, Continue reading “China Film Festival Madrid (El Matadero)”

Huanglongxi China’s Little Hollywood

Huanglongxi: Where Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon was Film

Huanglongxi: China’s Little Hollywood: Close to Chengdu is the town of Huanglongxi. Though not on the foreign tourist map, it is definitely a must for domestic tourists. Huanglongxi has been the stage set for many of China’s most famous soap operas, TV series and historical dramas, as well as some of Hong Kong’s biggest Kung Fu blockbusters. More recently, the box office hit ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ was partly film in Huanglongxi.

Huanglongxi: China's Little Hollywood sweet-maker
Huanglongxi: China’s Little Hollywood sweet-maker huanglongxi

Huanglongxi: China’s Little Hollywood

Huanglongxi Old Street
Huanglongxi Old Street

It is a small town with a number of perfectly preserved streets and traditional Qing dynasty houses. Unfortunately, some of the streets have become slightly tacky, due to the proliferation of souvenir stalls.

Playing Board Games Huanglongxi
Playing Board Games Huanglongxi

Nonetheless, if you stroll a few hundred meters away from the main tourist drags, you will find yourself in equally beautiful, but quiet, back streets that even now preserve their artisan shops.

Quite Streets Huanglongxi
Quite Streets Huanglongxi

You’ll find places where they build paper spirit-houses, make bamboo fans, crush chillies and braid rope from straw. If you’re lucky, you may catch an opera performance in a side-street teahouse, or musicians rehearsing with traditional instruments in a back room.

Huanglongxi Impromptu Music and Tea
Huanglongxi Impromptu Music and Tea

While at weekends and lunchtimes the village can be a bit overrun, we found our afternoon visit rather relaxing. Next to the river are a host of teahouses, where snacking on spicy shrimps and fried fish and slurping gallons of tea are the order of the day.

Restaurant by the River: Huanglongxi
Restaurant by the River: Huanglongxi

Huanglongxi: A good place to Chill Out

A cold beer by the river Huanglongxi
A cold beer by the river Huanglongxi

Most of these places will also do a good cold beer, if you fancy a change. Besides the teahouses, traditional architecture and flagstone streets, Huanglongxi also has a few interesting temples that are definitely worth a visit.

The Temple Where they Filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Temple Where they Filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

In fact, one of these temples boasts a real theatre in its courtyard, where you can partake of tea on the stage. This is also where they shot some scenes in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The Temple Where they Filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Temple Where they Filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Return to Sichuan Province