Christian Bale has signed on to star in the upcoming historical film, Nanjing Heroes.
The film comes courtesy of Zhang Yimou who, as the man behind House of Flying Daggers as well as the direction of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is arguably China’s most famous director.
Nanjing Heroes, however, will step away from the more frequently featured themes of Chinese cinema, which tend to focus on the country’s tumultous medieval history and martial arts. Instead, this film will tell the story of the mass murder of Chinese citizens which took place after the Japanese invasion of China’s former capital city.
It’s not the first time that this harrowing piece of history has been used as movie material. Last year saw the release of City of Life and Death and John Rabe, both of which documented the massacre as well as the story of Rabe, a German businessman who protected many Chinese civilians during this time.
Rather than taking on the character of Rabe, however, Bale has been cast as an American priest who works as Rabe’s accomplice. Of course, it is not the first time that the actor has appeared in a film about the Japanese invasion – he also featured in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun when he was just 12 years old. Having said this, it is still worth noting that it is relatively uncommon for Western actors to be cast in roles within Chinese cinema.
The script has been written by Yan and Liu Heng, who wrote the novel upon which Zhang’s 1990 film, Ju Dou, was based. It will reportedly feature about 40% English dialogue, with the rest in Mandarin Chinese.
Despite the fact that Zhang has been nominated three times, no Chinese film or director has ever won a major category Academy Award. Could this this be the film that finally bags him that Oscar?
Zhang is reportedly due to begin shooting Nanjing Heros on 10th January in a church near the city itself. Meanwhile, Bale has also recently confirmed that he will reprise his role as Batman in, what is rumoured to be the final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. We’ll keep you posted!