While in China promoting his upcoming film (and Chinese Oscar contender) “The Flowers of War,” Christian Bale was punched at and prevented from visiting blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng. The actor traveled to conduct an informal meet and greet with Guangcheng and brought CNN along for the ride, but were stopped outside the man’s village by guards preventing anyone from entering or exiting the area.
“Why can I not visit this free man?” Bale says repeatedly in the tape, but guards would not allow “The Dark Knight Rises” star through and even swung punches in an attempt to force him to drop his handheld camera. The CNN crew and Bale eventually managed to escape the guards, but a 40-minute vehicle pursuit then followed.
To some extent, Bale and CNN should have (and likely did) expect this type of behavior. Guangcheng rose to fame in the 1990s as a legal advocate for those he called victims of the abusive practices by China’s family-planning officials. They eventually imprisoned him to more than four years in prison for allegedly damaging property and disrupting traffic in protest, though he maintains that he is not guilty.
Since Guangcheng’s release from prison in September 2010, he and his family have been held basically under house arrest by dozens of Chinese guards. He is watched around the clock, and no one is allowed to enter or leave. Bale became aware of Gunagcheng’s situation while he was filming “The Flowers of War” in China, and wanted to do his part to help.
“This doesn’t come naturally to me, this is not what I actually enjoy — it isn’t about me,” he told CNN. “But this was just a situation that said I can’t look the other way.”
Bale is calling for the United States to take a more active role in helping Guangcheng, who he has never met. “Really, what else can I do to help Chen?” he added.