Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Men Behind the Sun (Hei tai yang 731)

vlcsnap-2010-08-17-19h27m59s198No trailer for this one and its probably a good thing, Men Behind the Sun is part of my foray into the darkest corners of cinema and it revolves around the brutality and horrific events performed at a Japanese research base. During the war and particularly towards the end the Japanese were purported to have committed great acts of barbarity. This film tells the story of Manchu 731 who were set to develop Biological warfare and test the limits and responses of the human body.

To this end they used Chinese citizens, referring to them as Maruta or Logs. Men Behind the Sun is an unflinching and truly horrifying look at this brutality. One particular scene involves the deliberate freezing and thawing of a woman's arms, this same woman has already had her baby ripped from her arms and left in the snow to die. Another shows the gruesome effects of rapid decompression on the human body.vlcsnap-2010-08-17-20h00m54s244

One thing particularly makes Men Behind the Sun stand out and this is the truth of its subject. It is horrific as a war film but when you factor in its almost documentary style then it becomes even more disturbing. To this end it is rather odd as one of the sickest films as to an extent it is worthy of inclusion in a higher list alongside serious far such as Schindlers List, and  while it is miles off that films budget or gravitas it does seek to do a similar thing. Educate.

Before you read this review had you heard of Manchu 731? I certainly hadn’t before seeing the film and a review of the known and supposed information available reveals that the horrors depicted truly occurred. In fact the director has stated he toned down some factors as they truly were not acceptable for public consumption.

Like most films this one has a fatal flaw however. Although a scene purporting to show the real death of a cat, eaten by rats, has been debunked as  effect, the same cannot be said of the scenes of fleeing rats on fire. Animal cruelty for cinema isn't and never will be acceptable.

The overlying feeling after watching Men Behind the Sun isn’t fear or horror, it is sadness. vlcsnap-2010-08-17-20h08m46s95

For more info on 731 start at WIKIPEDIA and work your way around the web.

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