Film Review – FLOWERS OF WAR

Director: Zhang Yimou
Screenplay: Liu Heng and Yan Geling
Players: Christian Bale; Ni Ni
Genre: War drama
Rating ****½

\The Flowers of War is a moving yet uplifting drama about the beautiful savagery of war.  Set in the autumn of 1937, the film tracks the fall of Nanking to invading Japanese troops. Caught in the crossfire between the local Chinese soldiers, ill-equipped and inexperienced in real warfare, and the Japanese, superior both in number and fire-power, is the Winchester Cathedral, a Roman Catholic edifice, impressively Gothic, which provides indifferent shelter to a huddle of females, a young Chinese caretaker-cleaner, and a dissipated American mortician, John Miller (Bale). In the courtyard outside the church is a huge red cross on a white sheet, spread out on the ground, as a plea for sanctity and safety from aerial attack.  The action which takes place on the flag has tragic and ironic significance.