Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 13th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, July 7th, 1995
Director: Tun Fei Mou
Writer: Tun Fei Mou
DVD released: November 16th, 2004
Approximate running time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Unearthed Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.99
The year is 1937 and the Japanese imperial army continues to push the Chinese army east while they occupy more and more of China. In late November of 1937 the Japanese imperial army would begin their assault on the city Nanking. Over the course of the next the next three months Japanese imperial army would murder an estimated 300,000 lives including many woman and children.
T.F. Mou’s, Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre is an unflinching look at the atrocities committed by the Japanese imperial army during the raping of the China’s capitol Nanking. The director approaches the film as more of a pseudo documentary then a glossed over piece of cinema for the masses. To add to the films realism T.F. Mou brilliantly mixes his recreated footage of the tragedy with stock footage that has survived all these years. The film is filled with shocking moments; still I found the scene were a Japanese solider removes a fetus with his bayonet from a pregnant woman to be a bit too much. The Chinese through out the film offer no resistant they just accept their fate as they are lined up and executed. In most films that deal with war there is always some cowboy who rallies the rest of the prisoners to participate in an uprising. Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre is not your typical film about war as it focuses more on the tragedy and the loss caused by war. The film ends with an interesting coda with the song silent night playing in the background with a series of images horrific images that adds melancholy to a song that is the direct opposite. Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre is powerful piece of filmmaking that is so effective in its story telling at times I became so engrossed in the images on the screen that I forgot that I was watching a movie.
Unearthed Films present Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.77:1 aspect ratio. The colors and flesh tones are solid as they look natural in appearance. There is some minor print damage in the form of nick and scratches that occurs a couple times during the course of the film. Overall the image is in good shape and there are no problems with compression.
This DVD transfer is progressive scan.
There is only one audio option included for this release the films original Chinese language track and it is presented in a Dolby Digital stereo. The track has a nice balance between the dialog and the action. There is no problems distortion or hiss. Overall the soundtrack may sound limited at times on some home theatre set ups as most of the sound comes from the center channel. English subtitles have been included that are easy to follow and understand.
Extras include trailers for Junk, Evil Dead Trap 2 and Boy Meets Girl. Unfortunately no trailer for Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre which may have to do with the films limited release. Other extras include a photo gallery with 32 stills, a comprehensive 24 page text look into the history of The Nanking Massacre and a virtual map of Nanking that offers a text option when a location is highlighted on the map. Too text only interviews with director T.F. Mou that are 35 and 15 pages respectively. Rounding out the extras is the feature length propaganda film from 1944 “Why We Fight: The Battle of China”. This insightful documentary runs about 62 minutes as it gives a detailed overview of China’s 4,000 year history. Unearthed Films have put together an impressive package that is loaded with a wealth of extras for this monumental film about one of histories darkest moments, Highly Recommended.