War epic, The Flowers of War, directed by Zhang Yimou (who famously brought us House of Flying Daggers) and starring Christian Bale sees its UK DVD release this week.
The Flowers of War is set during the “Rape of Nanking” in 1937, following a Japanese invasion of the city. As the most extensive film production ever undertaken in China, its release by Revolver commemorates the 75th anniversary year of this bitter war, and tells the tale of a terrified group of refugees brought together amid the war’s chaos.
Zhang Yimou is known around the world for his breathtaking cinematography and for creating the opening ceremony for to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. It was here that he began to envisage ‘The Flowers of War’ and several years later, shooting finally began the largest domestic production ever mounted in the country.
Snagging Christian Bale as the lead role was a major coup for this sweeping epic; the first real collaboration with a major Hollywood star in over 100 years of Chinese film history.
The movie’s release has not been without controversy: while back in China to promote his passion project, Bale was arrested by Chinese authorities after an attempt to visit well-known human rights activist Chen Guangcheng – a blind human rights lawyer under house arrest – and threats of censorship ensued.
In another revelation, the script seemed to bring out Bale’s softer side: “I found it a very human and very moving story” he says. “The trickiest thing for me was watching all those poor girls bawling their eyes out the first few days… It would almost make me cry. I’m looking at them… and I’m thinking, this is going to be tough.”
The musical score – by composer Chen Qigang who devised the world-famous theme tune to the 2008 Olympics opening ceremony – is further heightened by the haunting melodies of famous American violinist, Joshua Bell.
The Flowers Of War is available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray.