Rape of Nanking book cover artReuters reported on Monday that a Chinese film producer has announced plans for a $25 million film about the 1937 Rape of Nanking, a truly horrific atrocity in which Japanese troops brutally murdered tens of thousands of Chinese civilians.

The soldiers went on an appallingly vicious rampage through the captive Chinese city, and the things they did show the very worst of what human beings are capable of doing, including countless rapes, tossing live infants into the air and catching them on the ends of bayonets, and other such astonishingly barbaric behavior. The incident has been documented thoroughly by historians, but the subject has never received much attention. This movie should remedy that. As Reuters reports,

The movie of the massacres of tens of thousands of Chinese civilians by Japanese troops will be based on Iris Chang’s bestseller, "The Rape of Nanking," Xinhua news agency said, adding it would involve a U.S. production company and British investors.

"We hope we can make the film a classic on a massacre in the Second World War, just like ‘Schindler’s List’ about the miserable experience of Jewish people during the war," Xinhua quoted Gerald Green, the American producer of the movie, as saying.

China says 300,000 Chinese men, women and children were slaughtered by invading Japanese troops in war-time capital Nanjing, formerly known as Nanking.

Japan claims that the death toll was about half what the Chinese say, but either way it consitutes an extreme outrage. Chang’s book, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, is a very impressive document of the events and the mindset that was put into the soldiers who commited the atrocities.

Reuters reports that the producers are going after some big-name performers to tell this story:

China actress Zhang Ziyi and Malaysia’s Michelle Yeoh, stars of Oscar-winning martial arts film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," were on the investors’ wish list, Xinhua said.

The movie is scheduled to start shooting in "weeks to come" and would debut in China next year, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, Xinhua said.

This is a piece of history that more people should know more about, in America as much as anywhere else. It is a measure of what human beings in groups are capable of doing to one another, and as such it is something we really need to know.