Review by: Mut Asheru
John Rabe is a Nazi with a conscious. Can’t believe I said it but there it is and I would not have been able to make this observation if it had it not been for the film “John Rabe,” by German writer-director Florian Gallenberger.
During World War II there were “safety zones” set up for civilians and Rabe, a German business man, found that he could not in good conscious let death come to his Chinese workers who had placed so much trust in him. As he helps them flee the conquering Japanese, the film serves as a moving, well directed history lesson. We follow Rabe (Ulrich Tukur) and his unwilling collegue American physician Dr. Robert Wilson (Steve Buscemi) throughout their attempt to safe some 250,000 (estimated) Chinese safe during the decimation of Nanking.
Tukur turns in a brilliantly economical performance as he plays the part of a man who accidentally fell into the role of hero. Buscemi puts on a great show as well as the weary and overworked doctor who doesn’t trust the Nazi Rabe but nevertheless has to. His dry wit is a welcome relief.
Run time is 134 minutes so you know some things got added and excluded to help the flow of the film. I’m not going to lie to you, this is a good one to go see especially since Rabe’s story is extraordinary and little known. You will be moved to learn that yet another human being defied the norm and put himself on the line to help out his fellow man.