'Batman' Boost for Oscar Hopes

2011/12/12 13:18:00 (Beijing Time)   Source:China Daily via Agencies    By:

Zhang Yimou, one of China's best-known directors, is banking on heartthrob Christian Bale to help boost the country's chances of winning an Oscar, with his latest film on a tragic chapter in the nation's history.

"The Flowers of War," China's Academy Award entry for best foreign language film, centers around a mortician (Bale) who gets caught up in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre and has to save a group of schoolgirls from the clutches of the Japanese soldiers who at one point erupt in glee at finding virgins to rape.

On the way he becomes involved with a high-class Chinese courtesan, finding both love and personal redemption.

The film hits Chinese screens on Friday.

But the movie is also heavy on nationalism and saturated with patriotic pride. Bale, though, said he thought it unfair to view it as a propaganda film.

"It's a historical piece. I certainly never viewed it as that myself. I think that would be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. If anybody had that response I don't think they're looking closely enough at the movie," he told reporters in Beijing.

"It's far more a movie about human beings and the nature of human beings' responses to crisis, and how that can reduce people to the most animalistic behavior but also raise them up to the most honorable behavior you could ever witness."

Invading Japanese troops slaughtered 300,000 men, women and children in Nanjing, then known as Nanking, in 1937.

"Obviously there are fewer people in the West who are familiar with the Rape of Nanking. Myself, I knew about it. I owned the book and had never read it. So I came to know far more about it," he said.

Billed as the first Chinese movie to star a major Western actor, the country has high hopes it will snag an Oscar.

Zhang downplayed that. "We can work as hard as possible but really it's up to the gods. I really don't understand what the rules are for getting an Oscar," he said.

While Chinese movie moguls may hope for an ascendance on the world's silver screens by matching a Hollywood face to the Chinese story, Bale said for him it was more about working with someone like Zhang.

"It seemed like a very natural thing to do. I was excited by the notion of making a Chinese movie, of making a movie with someone as masterful as Yimou. I'm quite myopic in my approach to the movies that I want to make."

Movie Gross Admissions
IP Man 4:The Finale
Extinction US$0.02(M) 4734
Sheep Without A Sh... US$0.01(M) 2476
The Hero Battle US$0.01(M) 1357
My People, My Coun... US$0.01(M) 2220
Almost a Comedy US$0.01(M) 1396
Voice of the Nation US$0.00(M) 630
Liao Junbo US$0.00(M) 609
47 Meters Down: Un... US$0.00(M) 598
Guangyu,God of War US$0.00(M) 669