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Christian Bale Makes Movie History – in China

February 22, 2012

The Flowers of War is a historical movie that’s also making movie history – the first collaboration between a prominent director from the People’s Republic of China, Zhang Yimou, and a major Western star, Christian Bale.

Director Zhang (Raise the Red Lantern, House of Flying Daggers and the overseer of the Beijing Olympics) has described the film – the most expensive Chinese movie ever made at just under $100-million (U.S.) – as China’s attempt to gain a foothold in the $30-billion a year global cinema market.

Based on a novel by Geling Yan (The Sent Down Girl), the film is set during the notoriously brutal Japanese occupation of Nanjing (then known as Nanking) in 1937. The movie tells the story of a cynical American mortician, John Miller (who is not in the novel), a drifter who pretends to be a priest to protect two different groups of women, teenaged convent girls and local prostitutes, who are hiding in a cathedral.

When Zhang asked his friend Steven Spielberg for advice on Western casting. Spielberg suggested Christian Bale, a recent Oscar winner (for The Fighter) and already known around the world as Batman in The Dark Knight franchise. As a 12-year-old, the Welsh-born actor beat out 4,000 other contenders to star in Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun (1987), based on J.G. Ballard’s memoir of growing up in a Japanese internment camp in China. Read More

Christian Bale in The Flowers of War - Christian Bale in The Flowers of War | Handout