TheFlower of War
‘Theflower of war’ is a film which is set in 1937 during the Rape ofNanking at the time of the second Sino-Japanese war (Zhang,et al.,2013). This film is based on the story of 13 Flowers of Nanjing byGeling Yan. The film looks at the atrocities executed during the warin China and how different people have suffered. The film brings outvarious themes during the time of war. Some of these themes includerape, murder, destruction of property, massacre, and martyrdom. Thefilm was set during a time when the Japanese and Chinese werefighting and this exposed the citizens to the killings that weretaking place at the then capital of China. During the attack ofNanjing, the Japanese soldiers slaughtered the citizens in the cityfor over forty days (Zhang,et al.,2013)
TheJapanese soldiers were so brutal during this period that they rapedthousands of women before their families. Other than this, thesesoldiers also forced the citizens of the Chinese city to commitincest. However, the film also shows how some heroes and heroinestried to protect some of those who were are at greater risk of beingassaulted or killed. The Japanese soldiers also targeted specificgroups and this when it comes out clearly that there were heroes andheroines amidst the war (Zhang,et al.,2013). Even though majority of women were raped at this time, sometwelve prostitutes, one young boy, and an American morticianprotected a group of innocent school girls who were being targeted bythe Japanese soldiers. Even though the fate of the twelve prostitutesand one boy remains unknown, it was very courageous of them to opt toprotect the young girls from the torture they were likely to face.Despite the persecution that took place in the capital for over amonth, some people were still determined and showed a lot ofpatriotism. Some female students at the catholic convent opted tocommit suicide than suffer in the hands of the brutal Japanesesoldiers. Their patriotism and determination cannot go unnoticed atsuch a particular time (Zhang,et al.,2013)
Inthis film, the director shows the two faces of humanity, that is, theselflessness and selfishness. Selflessness is shown by theprostitutes who offered themselves to face torture for the sake ofthe young girls. One could not have expected such a selfless act fromprostitutes. However, their action shows that when need arises,people have to stand for one another. The young girls can be viewedto be sisters or daughters who were vulnerable, scared, and about toface brutal actions like rape, torture, and murder. However, theprostitutes and the young boy went out of their way to ensure thatthe girls were rescued to a safer place. It is human nature forpeople to be selfish when faced with a dangerous situation. However,the prostitutes made a very brave move and this is a heroic act thatshould be celebrated. Even though prostitutes are not seen as pure,they did such a heroic thing (Zhang,et al.,2013). TheJapanese soldiers or on the other hand are nothing but selfish. Eventhough they could have overpowered the Chinese army and taken controlover the city, its people, and resources without murdering attorturing, they still went ahead to harm the innocent.
Thefilm gets halfway and killings of women and attack of young girls isseen. At around 57.03 minutes, the women can be seen escapingunsuccessfully and eventually getting killed by the Japanesesoldiers. In 59:01 minutes, the ladies are seen being cornered amongthe rambles of buildings and getting killed. The film also shows whenthe young school girls were found by the soldiers and one of theshouted they have found virgins. This brings us to a realization thatthe innocent should not be harmed during war. In this case, theinnocent represent those who are not fighting or civilians. There isnot victory for any army for raping, maiming, and killing innocentpeople. It is okay for soldiers to fight amongst themselves becausethey have taken an oath to protect their people. Hence, it is fairfor two armies to fight. However, civilians should be kept out of thewar as much as possible. This is the reason why the Japanese army iscondemned for its actions in this film.
Itis an evil thing in the society when conquering women is seen asvictory especially for the Japanese. The innocence of women is beinghunted for the wrong reasons and this film is educative to thesociety that women should be protected from violence. Women are bravein their own capacity and very important in any society. Therefore,there is no need to subject them to torture during war. Women canbecome crucial or hunted “angelic” humans during war, and youngwomen turn into vultures. This demonstrates the hypocrisy in thesociety since harming women in whatever country is humiliating everywoman in any part of the world. This means that this is how menperceive women, even those who are close to them like their mothersand sisters. During war, women are turned into objects that must beconquered and this is a very wrong notion.
OverallMeaning of the Film
Thefilm has a very positive side in educating the society. People needto learn through history which is documented in films. This film isrelevant today because such atrocities still persist in the variouswar torn nations. People also need to learn about true spirituality.Even though being a priest one has to be educated on Christianfoundations or theology, true spirituality is seen in their actions.The American mortician is seen as a person with a pure heart becauseof his intentions to protect women and the vulnerable from thepersecution during way. It is also crucial to note that he was notjudgment when the prostitutes came knocking. This is not somethingthat very many people can do especially in churches. However, theAmerican mortician knew what exactly to do, to offer help and notjudge. This is a great lesson depicted in the movie and one thatpeople in the society should internalize. A person can be in a churchbut they are not spiritual simply because their behavior is notGodly.
Truespirituality is seen in a person and there is no need to explainoneself or display one’s beliefs and faith. The differences areclear in the example of the American mortician and the Japanesecommander (Atsuro Watabe) (Zhang,et al.,2013). Even though the intentions of the Japanese commander wereseemingly harmless, the behavior of his troops indicated the oppositeand this is what showed that the girls were in danger. Even thoughthe film tells a dark story, there is a lot that the society canlearn from it. It also applied to people in all levels of thesociety, be it children or adults. The people that the societyexpects to be selfish and impure may end up being heroes inunimaginable ways. On the other hand, people who are expected to beheroes and protectors can turn out to be monsters. Therefore,everyone has a part to play which can be selfless or selfish.
Zhang,Yimou, et al. Theflowers of war.Elite film, 2013.