Review: City of Life and Death

In Western cinema, depictions of World War II have focused overwhelmingly on the atrocities perpetrated by the Third Reich, perhaps for understandable reasons: an ethnic affinity for the European theater of war; the Nazis’ startling blend of venomous racism and cold-blooded organization; and the sheer, staggering scale of the Reich’s crimes. In the cultural memory of China, however, it is the crimes of Imperial Japan during the Second Sino-Japanese War that loom the largest, and the restless ghosts of that conflict overwhelmingly congregate around one word: Nanjing.

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