Zhang Yimou's Nanjing Massacre film gains Hollywood lead
I'm surprised by the news that Christian Bale, who has fast become a bit of an action actor in the last few years with Batman and Terminator, is set to star in a film about the Nanjing Massacre which will be directed by Zhang Yimou called Nanjing Heroes.
Not only that but the film is going to get a massive budget with something in the region of US $90 million, making this the biggest film about the massacre that has been made so far, as well as the one that has the potential to be the widest seen.
Nanjing Heroes will also call on Hollywood for the effects people who were behind Saving Private Ryan and The Dark Knight (Filmstalker review), so this really is becoming something of a cross market production, although there is no outside investment and is entirely a Chinese production.
The film will tell the the true story of the invasion of Japanese troops into the capital of China at the time, Nanjing, when in 1937 thousands of Chinese citizens were murdered by the invading troops and has been a contentious issue between the two countries even to this day. There have been books and films about the events since, but none have really made it to worldwide status, although City of Life and Death aka Nanjing! Nanjing! from 2009 was perhaps the one that reached the most diverse audience to date.
Now the production of Nanjing Heroes looks set to change that with Christian Bale being signed up you know that it's going to be marketed in the west very well.
However it doesn't look as though it will be telling the entire story, instead it may well focus on that of the people who helped save others during the events. One such figure is John Rabe, a German businessman who helped save hundreds of Chinese refugees and is mentioned in so many of the books and films about the events. Surprisingly Bale will not play Rabe but an American priest who also helped save refugees.
Zhang Yimou spoke about the film and the casting through The Hollywood Reporter revealing that he was impressed with the level of research that Bale had done for the role, and that this was in fact the lead role, he wouldn't be playing a secondary character to another actor playing that of John Rabe. When he talked about the reasoning for casting Bale he said:
”It's the overall strategy for Chinese cinema to approach the world and broaden its influence but casting Bale was a coincidence because the script happened to have an English-speaking part in the lead.”
It certainly sounds a big role for Christian Bale that would propel him even more into the realms of super stardom, but it's also a very good move considering that he will just be coming off his last Batman film and will really show how diverse he can be, after all I think it's something we can easily forget considering his last four films.
Diverse actor or not, he won't be speaking completely in Mandarin, for it seems that the film will almost be half and half English and Mandarin, this film really is pitching for a world wide market.