THE HERO IS A GERMAN NAZI WHO HOLDS HITLER IN HIGH REGARD—AND YOU WILL END UP ROOTING FOR HIM
A DEEPLY DISTURBING, YET MOVING, STORY—WHICH JUST HAPPENS TO BE TRUE
I have bemoaned the lack of thoughtful, intelligent, well written and directed movies—targeted at the sentient adult—a number of times in this blog.
Hollywood studios seem to have forgotten how to make them—or just don’t care to—perhaps because thoughtful, intelligent adults get short shrift in that town. Beneath the glitz and the glamor, Hollywood culture is deeply unhealthy, and corrupting.
Of course there are exceptions—SCHINDLER’S LIST being a notable example—but there are not many these days. And those that are made are invariably independent movies financed only after truly herculean efforts.
It is yet another American tragedy, because film (and its digital equivalent) constitute far too powerful and important a medium to be given over near completely to what appeals to the lowest common denominator.
JOHN RABE (2009)—a German-Chinese-French production—is a true gem of a movie which tells the truly remarkable true story of a senior Siemens executive, and a German Nazi Party member at that, who set up an International Safety Zone in Nanking, and helped to save over 200, 000 Chinese from the invading Japanese.
The scenes of the Rape of Nanking (which took place in late 1937 and early 1938) by the Japanese under the command of Imperial Prince Asaka, are portrayed unsparingly, and are quite horrifying—yet, fundamentally, it is the story of an honorable man, of late middle-age, doing his best under near impossible circumstances.
Many Japanese are still in denial about the Rape of Nanking, but it actually happened—and about 300,000 Chinese were killed during it for no particular reason except to demonstrate the superiority and power of the Japanese Army. Most of these were not combat casualties. They were either unarmed prisoners of war or innocent civilians—and they were slaughtered like animals. Officers held competitions to see who could cut off most heads in a given period of time—and had themselves photographed in front of their trophies. This was human behavior at its most callous and depraved.
Yes, it is a similar story to Schindler’s List in some ways, but it is a very different movie.
Strange to have a Nazi as the hero—but, as we say in Ireland, Nazi or not, he really was a decent man.