Buscemi Joins John Rabe

Drama about the Nanjing Massacre

Buscemi Joins John Rabe

by Helen O'Hara |
Published on

Some films are all about fun, and escapism, and some - not so much. Such is the case with John Rabe, which has just started shooting in Shanghai, a story based around the horrific Nanjing Massacre in 1937 when Japanese forces invaded and pillaged the Chinese city of Nanjing, leaving between 150,000 and 300,000 people dead. But despite its sombre premise, the film has attracted a rather impressive international cast.

Germany's Ulrich Tukur (The Lives Of Others, Solaris) takes the title role of Rabe, a card-carrying Nazi and Siemens executive who managed to create a safe zone in the city and to save the lives of 200,000 civilians (which rather puts Oskar Schindler's efforts to shame). Steve Buscemi plays American doctor Robert Wilson, who stayed in the city during the occupation to care for the sick and wounded.

Good Bye, Lenin's Daniel Bruehl has also been cast, as has French actress Anne Consigny (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, 36), but their parts haven't been announced yet. Chinese stars Lu Huang and Zhang Jingchu lead the local contingent, with Akira Emoto and Teruyuki Kagawa representing the Japanese. German director and short film Oscar winner Florian Gallenberger, aka the German director called Florian who isn't Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck will be calling the shots.

History buffs may be pleased to learn that this is not the only film in the works about this horrific episode of the 20th century. Nanking Nanking also started shooting earlier this month, from director Tiang Zhuangzhuang, while Hong Kong's Stanley Tong and Yim Ho are both covering it, with The Diary and Nanking Xmas 1937 respectively. And Blighty's own Simon West is also preparing his take in Purple Mountain. It looks like a much overlooked and (generally) shamefully ignored event is going to get some long overdue attention.

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