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The Last Samurai

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  • The Last Samurai

    Edward Zwick is a more-than competent director who has made some capable movies, and some that I physically detest. This is largely the fault of his love of the "ideal worth dying for", which is central to most of his movies. I, on the other hand, feel few ideals are worth even discussing, let alone dying for. "Idealist" isn't a snide put-down without reason.

    The Last Samurai is a very beautiful movie, with excellent battle scenes, built around ambivalent racism. The White Man is so superior he learns Japanese fluently and becomes an expert samurai fighter in 6 months. During this period he also earns the love of the widow and children of the man he killed in battle. In this same timespan, the Japanese army cannot even learn to load and aim a modern rifle properly. I'll let you guess who the titular warrior ends up being.

    According to Zwick, the most evil person is one with no ideals at all. All the battles in this movie pit one imperial army against another, because the emperor cannot make up his mind which ideal is best. Of course, the White Man does not have this problem, disposing with 40 years worth of ideals over a single conversation, and instantly adopting a new "ideal worth dying for".

    Perhaps I shouldn't be so sour over this movie. It is pretty, and stirring, and has some dramatic scenes. The music is nice, too. It's essentially high-rent Bruckheimer, outrage-porn for those who enjoy being outraged. Rambo or Red Dawn for the CGI generation.

    I mean, what harm could possibly come from anyone preaching that ideals are worth dying (and killing) for?
    Learn by teaching
    Take responsibility for learning

  • #2
    ah, the cynic. i liked the movie. i saw it more as about a man who had lost his way, his 'faith', and especially his honor and through hard work, practice, and just plain old stubborness, regains his own worth, his honor, the respect of the japanese and in doing so wins the love of the woman.

    and whereas i do understand the bits about being a bit unreal, i tend to overlook those things if the movie is done well and tells a good story. this was a good story. basically, it boiled down to honor lost, honor re-found.

    Craig

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    • #3
      Sorry Doug,

      but you are way overreacting on this racism-thing. Chill a little and see the movie from the directors perspective:

      The plot is about an american ex-soldier learning the "Way of the Samurai", and changes sides from the profit-based side of the americans to the honorous side of the Samurai warriors.

      So now try to put this in a movie! Of course we all know it's impossible to learn kendo, iai-do and everything else in just 6 months, put how should a live-long learning process fit into the plot of a 40 year old soldier?

      You might notice some other US commercial movies around trying to bend history a little:

      U-571: The german Enigma machine and code-books were captured by UK troops, no single american was involved.

      Men of Honor: Carl Brashear did not just fly thru a navy-career but worked several years very hard to become a navy-diver and no "noble white man" was around to help him.

      Just some hints

      Patrick

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