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The Flowers of War [2011] [R] - 6.8.5



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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When a westerner (Christian Bale) takes refuge in a Catholic church during the 1937 Nanking Massacre (also known as the Rape of Nanking), he finds himself responsible for the safety of a group of schoolgirls and several prostitutes, as he tries to lead them to safety and away from the invading Japanese army. Also with Ni Ni, Xinyi Zhang, Tong Dawel and Paul Schneider. Directed by Yimou Zhang. In Mandarin and English, with English subtitles. [2:26]

SEX/NUDITY 6 - A man enters a room and we see a woman's wrist tied to a chair: the man mounts the woman, we hear him moaning sexually and see him thrusting on top of her as he rapes her (no nudity is visible); the woman bites his ear and he pulls away (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details).
 A man and a woman kiss, the woman makes a sexual remark and moments later we see them kissing passionately with the woman on top (we hear a brief sexual moan) and it is implied that they are having sex (no nudity is visible).
 As a woman's cries are heard, several men are seen in stages of partial undress (two men are shirtless and one man appears to be wearing a loose sheet as underwear) while they have a sexually suggestive conversation about the unseen crying woman and one man remarking that he is "always last" (it is implied that the men had all raped the woman). Several soldiers chase schoolgirls, rip at their clothing, try to force themselves on top of them, and one soldier is about to rape one of the girls (we see him rip her outer dress and she is shown wearing long-john style underwear) when a bullet hits him in the back (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details).
 A man implies to a woman that he is going to pay her for sex and he motions to a bed; the woman turns him down, but then offers that she and several other women would "thank him" (implying with sex) if the man were to help them escape.
 A man tries to kiss a woman, he pushes himself on her, the woman pulls away and a soldier punches the man in the face, knocking him to the ground. A man kisses a woman's hand.
 Several women are seen topless; their bare backs are visible (we do not see bare breasts) as they wrap cloth around their breasts to bind them close to their chests while schoolgirls watch.
 A woman tells a man that she had been raped by her stepfather at the age of 13, that she began working as a prostitute immediately after and had "countless partners." Several women tease a woman, saying that she has a crush on a boy and the woman shouts playfully at the women saying that the boy does not even have pubic hair. Throughout the movie women have sexually suggestive conversations implying that they are prostitutes. Several schoolgirls accuse a group of women of being prostitutes. A girl accuses a young woman of being "filthy." Several women discuss living in a brothel. A woman shouts at a teen boy that she had "serviced" a man for free the previous week. A man whistles at several women, and the women discuss how the man is "flirting." A woman teases a man in front of other women and schoolgirls, saying that men with beards are "the horniest." A woman teases a man, saying that a schoolgirl had a crush on him and became angry when she saw the man with a woman. A man jokingly tells a group of girls to imagine people on the toilet with their pants around their ankles.

VIOLENCE/GORE 8 - As a soldier violently rapes a tied-up woman, she bites his ear, he screams in pain, blood pours from the wound and the soldier pulls away; other soldiers tease the soldier for allowing himself to be bitten by the woman and the wounded soldier picks up a rapier and stabs the woman in the stomach (blood sprays and soaks through a lace curtain) and the woman's body is later discovered by a man (we see a large pool of blood around her feet).
 Two women run from five soldiers chasing them, one of the women is cornered, and a soldier shoots her in the throat (we hear a gurgling noise as blood bubbles from the wound); the woman reaches for the soldier's legs as he tries to chase the other woman and he kicks her away, and the woman's body is later discovered by a man and a teen boy and we see that her clothing is torn away and a large metal spike is driven into her genital area (blood covers her face, chest and neck).
 A soldier shoots many enemy soldiers, and we see bullets hitting their backs and passing through their helmets (blood pours from the wounds as the soldiers slump over); four bombs are detonated, shrapnel tears through the soldiers' throats and chests, soldiers open fire on the assailant and his body twists from the impact of the bullets (he is very bloody), he falls over the side of a building, we see lengths of string attached to the man's body that pull out the detonators of many grenades as he falls through the air and a massive explosion rocks the building (it is implied that the explosion kills all of the other soldiers).
 Soldiers fire guns past a group of schoolgirls running toward them when opposing soldiers chase them, we hear gunfire and see multiple soldiers struck by bullets in slow-motion (blood spray is seen coming from a bullet wound in a soldier's neck and a soldier's chest); the enemy bears down on the small group of soldiers and one of the soldiers strapped with explosives rolls himself under an oncoming tank (the explosion stops the tank).
 A soldier shoots a man, point-blank, in the forehead; the man falls to the ground with a thud, and a man later examines the body of the man, placing a hat over his face (a small bloody bullet wound is visible).
 Several soldiers storm into a church and chase schoolgirls around, they rip at their clothing, pull them by the hair, shove them and try to force themselves on top of them, the soldiers break down a door and shove past a bookcase, a man shouts at them to stop, they stop and one of the soldiers threatens the man with his sword; the soldiers continue grabbing the screaming girls and a soldier strikes the man on the head twice (we see blood coming from the man's nose and a cut on his temple), and a soldier is about to rape one of the girls (we see him rip her outer dress and she is shown wearing long-john style underwear) when a bullet bursts through a window and hits him in the back (blood sprays on the girl) and a second soldier is then hit by a bullet (he slumps over and dies) as the others leave.
 A schoolgirl is shot through a giant stained glass window, the bullet enters her throat and we see blood spray from the wound, hitting a woman in the face; we later see the deceased girl being buried next to another deceased girl.
 Soldiers chase a group of schoolgirls through a city, they fire many shots at the girls, three girls are separated from the group, two of them hide inside a cement mixer, a soldier stabs the hiding spot of one of the girls as the other two watch in horror and when blood is seen on the soldier's bayonet they open fire on the hiding spot (it is implied the girl is killed).
 Two men, attempting to rip the clothing off a schoolgirl, drop her from a balcony onto the stone floor and she lands with a thud (blood is seen coming from her ears, mouth and nose); a large pool of blood gathers around her as an injured man holds her hand and she appears to be dead (we later see several schoolgirls gathered around the dead girl's body and a large pool of blood is still on the ground).
 A soldier carries the small body of a boy through a street and props it next to him as he tries to hit opposing soldiers with sniper-fire; the boy appears dead when the soldier lowers the body onto a bed and instructs several women to care for him, they slowly cut away the leg of the boy's pants to reveal a large, sticky, bloody wound and we later see the boy, still on the bed with his skin gray and sallow and a teen boy remarks that the caked and bloody wound is "rotten" (the boy dies as the women watch and weep).
 On multiple occasions we see many bloody and dead bodies of men, women and children piled up on the streets, including the following: Four schoolgirls run through a street as bullets fly around them and they hide next to a pile of dead, bloody bodies; as a man walks through the streets with a teen boy he remarks that there are "bodies everywhere"; and a soldier walks through a street and we see mutilated, bloody soldiers on the ground. We see the deceased bodies of three girls with blood covering their chest and legs; two girls scream uncontrollably as they pass them and a man has to hold them to calm them down. A man drives a truck past a dead man as a girl's voiceover explains that the driver of the truck wishes he had been able to bury the dead man.
 A man runs as many soldiers fire at him, he leaps into a giant bin of flour, a soldier walks past, stabs the bin with a bayonet and the man jumps out unharmed. A man is held at gunpoint by a soldier as two girls watch, hidden inside a cement mixer; a wall behind the soldier collapses, crushing him and allowing the man and two girls to escape unharmed. A soldier holds a knife to a teen boy's throat, and the boy squirms and pulls away, unharmed. Several women climb over a stone wall, a teen boy tries to hit them with a long stick, one of the women jumps on top of him, knocking him to the ground and they are both unharmed. Several women and girls shout at one another, they fight and are interrupted by the sound of gunfire. Several schoolgirls argue, and we see two of the girls shove and wrestle one another, until a teen boy and a man break up the fight. A woman and a soldier are startled when a man accidentally drops a bottle of wine on the ground between them (he is on a balcony); the soldier draws his gun, and then lowers it when he sees the man.
 A woman tries to run from soldiers chasing her, we see her leap from a balcony into a river, two soldiers jump in after her and moments later we see her wrists tied up and hear her crying. A woman dressed as a schoolgirl shouts and screams, trying to pull herself away from a truck as a group of soldiers tries to push the woman into the truck; the woman is grabbed by a soldier and shoved violently into the truck. Women dressed as schoolgirls drop mirrors on the ground, grab sharp shards and wrap them in cloth; one of the women says that as long as they are being assaulted they might be able to poke out someone's eye.
 Several schoolgirls climb to the top of a church's bell tower, and they are about to jump when a man and several women talk them down; a teen boy helps talk the girl's down, saying that wasting life would be a sin.
 Several schoolgirls mourn two dead girls that are shown lying on a blanket in a shallow grave as a man performs a funeral ceremony. A group of women watch a funeral from a distance and later apologize to the girls for the loss of their friend.
 A woman shouts at a man lying on the ground, she slaps him and storms away. After a group of women tease a soldier, he angrily shouts at them. A woman shouts at a soldier for using her robe and the soldier shouts back at her. A teen boy shouts at a man. On multiple occasions a teen boy shouts at several women. A man shouts at a teen boy. A woman shouts at a group of girls, saying that if they were to attend a celebration that it would be filled with murder, burning and rape and a man tearfully warns the girls not to listen to the woman. A man warns a boy dressed as a schoolgirl that he must escape before he arrives at a celebration, warning the teen boy to jump out of a moving car; the teen boy dismisses the man's warnings, saying he wanted to give the man and a group of schoolgirls ample time to escape.
 A sexually suggestive conversation about an unseen crying woman and one man remarking that he is "always last" implies that the woman had been raped by several men). A schoolgirl blames another schoolgirl for the death of their classmate. A man sternly tells a soldier that he will not allow girls to attend a celebration because he fears for their safety. Several schoolgirls ask women if they will have their clothing ripped by soldiers or if the soldier will attempt to rape them and the women do not answer. A man warns another man that he is "not going to die in China" and offers an escape for the man to leave the war-torn area but the man turns him down. A teen boy explains to a man that an elderly man had died and they had laid his body in a courtyard after it began to decompose and smell; we see a massive hole in the yard as the teen boy explains that the deceased body had been hit by a mortar shell and exploded. A woman cries as she tells another woman that two women had escaped from a church. A man tells a woman to tell several other women that two women had been killed by stray bullets and they had not suffered; a man later tells a woman that her two dead friends had not been killed by stray bullets and the woman tells the man that she knew the truth. A man tells a woman that his daughter had died and her dying wish was that he make her look pretty after she had died. A girl's voiceover explains that a boy had been orphaned and almost died of starvation. A boy tells a man that he had promised his adoptive father, a Catholic priest, that he would protect a group of girls. A soldier tells a woman to tell a man that if several schoolgirls are allowed to die that the soldier and his compatriots had died for nothing. A boy tells a woman that his entire family had died.
 As the movie begins we see a small introduction that indicates that over 200,000 people had been killed during the Massacre of Nanking.
 A man urinates into a jar, but the stream of urine misses the jar and drips through a floorboard next to women that are hiding under the floor. A girl tries to prevent a woman from entering a bathroom, and the woman crudely tells the girl that she is not going to urinate or defecate.

PROFANITY 5 - About 2 F-words and its derivatives, 4 sexual references, 6 scatological terms, 2 anatomical terms (1 mild), 16 mild obscenities, name-calling (jerk, maggots, tramps, cheap, shameless, coward, sissy, idiot, fool, stupid, filthy, stubborn, traitor, dirty bearded man, insane), exclamations (shut up). [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - Throughout the movie we see a man drinking wine and liquor to the point of drunkenness, a teen boy reprimands a man for drinking altar wine, a woman chastises a man for being drunk a majority of the time, a man drinks from a flask and searches a room for liquor, we see a man passed out due to drunkenness, a man and a woman share a small bowl of wine, and a man bribes several men with a crate of wine. Throughout the movie we see a man smoking cigarettes, we see women smoking cigarettes occasionally, and a man and a woman share a cigarette.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - The Massacre at Nanking, the Rape of Nanking, prostitution, change of character, sacrifice, loss of a family member, deception, the horrors of war, rape, regret.

MESSAGE - The massacre and mass rape of Chinese civilians in Nanking province by the Japanese army is a deeply disturbing topic and must not be forgotten. Giving up your life for someone else is the greatest sacrifice.

Special Keywords: S6 - V8 - P5 - MPAAR

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