What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Flowers of War alternates between scenes of intense wartime brutality and sentimental dramatic moments. The savagery inflicted upon the Chinese in 1937 by invading Japanese troops during the historical atrocity known as "The Rape of Nanking" is graphically portrayed. The threat of rape underscores the entire film, and there are fierce fire fights, grisly shots of dismembered bodies, exploding soldiers, point-blank shootings, and multiple violent sexual assaults on both courtesans and innocent schoolgirls. Occasional swearing (including "s--t," "bastards," "ass," "f--k," "whore," and more) is both heard and seen in subtitles. Characters smoke throughout the movie and drink wine and whiskey; the hero (Christian Bale) is introduced as a hard-drinking man who passes out after getting very drunk. One tender love scene takes place between the hero and a courtesan; there's no nudity, but the characters kiss passionately and embrace as they begin to undress.
- Families can talk about the very graphic violence in this movie. What were the filmmakers trying to achieve? How did you feel about what you saw? How does the impact of this kind of violence compare to the gore of a horror movie?
- How historically accurate do you think The Flowers of War is? Why might filmmakers choose to change certain details when telling a fact-based story? Where resources are available if you'd like to know more about the actual event?
- How did the filmmakers choose to show John Miller's change from scoundrel to true hero? What events influenced that change?