sat 19/09/2020

City of Life and Death | reviews, news & interviews

City of Life and Death

City of Life and Death

A Chinese war film of symphonic ambition humanises the Japanese enemy too

The rape of Nanking: Chinese women were forced to offer 'comfort' to the victors
From The Bridge on the River Kwai onwards, the Japanese haven’t tended to come up smelling of roses in war movies. Kind of unsurprisingly. In recent years it was Clint Eastwood who moved the story on. In Flags of Our Fathers he painted the Japanese military as the yellow peril, but gave them the benefit of the doubt in Letters from Iwo Jima, the other half of his Pacific diptych. City of Life and Death attempts to do in one film what Eastwood split into two: a portrait of the Japanese war machine as a manifestation of pitiless amorality; and the component parts of that machine as sentient human beings (at least some of them, anyway).
From The Bridge on the River Kwai onwards, the Japanese haven’t tended to come up smelling of roses in war movies. Kind of unsurprisingly. In recent years it was Clint Eastwood who moved the story on. In Flags of Our Fathers he painted the Japanese military as the yellow peril, but gave them the benefit of the doubt in Letters from Iwo Jima, the other half of his Pacific diptych. City of Life and Death attempts to do in one film what Eastwood split into two: a portrait of the Japanese war machine as a manifestation of pitiless amorality; and the component parts of that machine as sentient human beings (at least some of them, anyway).

Share this article

Comments

Hmm. Don't think you quite got it did you? John Williams chords?

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters