USMagazine, Friday, December 16, 2011, 9:00am (PST)
Christian Bale's trip to China was a lot rougher than he expected.
The 37-year-old star was in the country to promote his latest film The Flowers of War, a tale about the Japanese occupation of Nanjing in 1937. While visiting, the actor wanted to meet with embattled Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer and Chinese activist who is currently under illegal house arrest in an eastern Shandong Province.
A CNN camera crew accompanied Bale on the drive from Beijing to Chen's village. In the footage obtained, Bale pleads with the government officials guarding the entry points to the village of Dongshigu. "Why can I not visit this free man?" he pleads, telling the guards he wants to meet Chen, "shake his hand, and say what an inspiration he is."
The Oscar-winner was then physically stopped by the guards from gaining entrance to visit with Guangcheng. Guangcheng became persecuted when he took on the case of thousands of women who were victims of forced sterilizations and abortions. In 2006, he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail; he was released in 2010 but has remained under house arrest.
The Flowers of War has been slammed as Chinese propaganda by many critics who claim its harsh portrayal of the Japanese and promoting Chinese nationalism are tactics used by the Communist party. It opens in China on Friday and Dec. 16 in the United States.