Not too long ago the small outfit Wreckin Hill Entertainment picked up US rights to Zhang Yimou‘s new film The Flowers of War. That’s the film in which Christian Bale plays a roguish American who ends up taking responsibility for a group of girls and women who take refuge in a church during Japan’s siege of Nanking during World War II.

The film is China’s entry for this year’s Best Foreign Language film (it is also the most expensive film produced in China) and has an Oscar-qualifying run set to begin December 21 in New York, with openings on Dec 23 in LA and San Francisco.

To promote that Oscar run there is now a US trailer for the film, and it is far more coherent and story-oriented than the sales trailer we saw some time ago. It still shows off the film’s wartime scope, but it also foregrounds the narrative so that we can really get an idea of how the film plays. Check it out below.

When we originally heard about this film, it was reported that the film’s script was about 40% English, with the rest being Chinese and Japanese. So I’d expect that much of the English-language dialogue has been highlighted here, but the film isn’t entirely in English. And hopefully the love story, such as it is, won’t be quite as straightforward as the trailer makes it appear.

Based on a screenplay by Heng Liu (The Story of Qiu Ju), THE FLOWERS OF WAR is adapted from Geling Yan’s historical novel 13 Flowers of Nanjing. The film is a work of historical fiction set against the backdrop of the Rape of Nanking, a brutal chapter in the Sino-Japanese War, which was a significant event in Chinese history. Produced and fully financed by Zhang Weiping under his New Pictures Film banner, THE FLOWERS OF WAR is inspired by true life events, and tells a genuine story of hope, love and sacrifice.

Set in 1937, Nanking stands at the forefront of a war between China and Japan. As the invading Japanese Imperial Army overruns China’s capital city, desperate civilians seek refuge behind the nominally protective walls of a western cathedral. Here, John Miller (Bale), an American trapped amidst the chaos of battle, and theensuing occupation, takes shelter, joined by a group of innocent schoolgirlsand thirteen courtesans, equally determined to escape the horrors taking place outside the church walls.

Further release dates for The Flowers of War beyond the Oscar-qualifying run have yet to be announced. [Deadline]

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