Bale to star in Zhang’s film about Nanjing

http://www.cbc.ca/arts/film/story/2010/12/22/bale-zhang-nanking.html

Bale to star in Zhang’s film about Nanjing
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | 11:58 AM ET Comments2Recommend12
CBC News
Zhang Yimou, shown Wednesday in Beijing, has announced his latest film will star Christian Bale. Zhang Yimou, shown Wednesday in Beijing, has announced his latest film will star Christian Bale. (Alexander F. Yuan/Associated Press)

British actor Christian Bale has signed on to Zhang Yimou’s film about Japanese atrocities in Nanjing during the Second World War.

Bale is to play an American priest who shelters a group of prostitutes and some young female students in the Chinese city in 1937 in Nanjing Heroes.

The takeover of the city by the Japanese, referred to as The Rape of Nanking, resulted in an estimated 150,000 deaths and countless rapes. It is considered one of the most savage war crimes in history.

The city, called Nanking meaning “southern capital” in the Second World War-era English rendering of the Chinese name, now is referred to as Nanjing.

Zhang, the director of Raise the Red Lantern and Hero, had long promised to cast an A-list Hollywood actor in the role and there had been speculation about Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt as the priest.
British actor Christian Bale, shown July 23, 2008, will play the American priest who shelters a group of vulnerable women during the Rape of Nanking. British actor Christian Bale, shown July 23, 2008, will play the American priest who shelters a group of vulnerable women during the Rape of Nanking. (Manu Fernandez/Associated Press)

He said he chose Bale because of his versatility as an actor, adding that he was impressed that the actor had researched the incident.

“I gave him the names of some books that he should read about the Nanjing massacre,” the director said. “When I went to see him, I saw those books were lying open on his table, and I was very touched.”

Bale, currently winning accolades for his role as the junkie boxer in The Fighter, also is known for his portrayal of Batman in The Dark Knight.

Zhang said he hopes casting Bale will bring a Western audience to the picture, due for release next December.

“We’ve made many, many Nanjing movies … but they are mostly like we’re talking to ourselves. A lot of young people in Western countries might not know about it,” Zhang said.

The 2007 documentary Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking centred on the author of a book on the 1937 massacre. But in China, there have recently been several features on the subject, including the blockbuster Nanking, which had little following outside of China.

The $90-million US production is based on the novel The 13 Noble Ladies of Nanjing by contemporary writer Yan Geling. It is about a group of sex workers in Nanjing who agree to go with the Japanese soldiers to protect their compatriots.
With files from The Associated Press

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