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#129326 - 05/05/05 10:19 PM Re: The Last Samurai [Re: DefenselessChild]
Tashigae Offline
Mister Bendy

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 690
Loc: Samarobriva, Gallia
If you want to learn more about what really happened, do a little search about Satsuma-no-ran (the revolt of samurai against Meiji's modernist reforms) and Saigo Takamori (leader of the revolt, the guy after whom the character Katsumoto was inspired). I would tell you more but I'm just back from a night shift, it's almost half past three in the morning and I'm dying for my bed! Sorry...

#129327 - 05/06/05 08:47 AM Re: The Last Samurai [Re: DefenselessChild]
Tashigae Offline
Mister Bendy

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 690
Loc: Samarobriva, Gallia

In my opinion it just seemed like the whole Captain role was just introduced as an excuse to have a white main character in a samurai movie...
Also, the fact that EVERY single asian good guy died was sort of depressing.

You're probably partly right about the reason for having Tom Cruise in the movie (an American superstar cannot harm how much money the film will make) but I think that the main role of having a Westerner is to create an interface, a character completely stranger to the samurai's way of life (as most potential spectators will be), thus creating the need to "explain" it to him, thus providing an excuse for explaining it very clearly to the spectator as well without sounding wierd. It's a very old trick: when an author is not sure that what he meant will be understood, he introduces an ignorant character who will ask "why is he doing that?", thus creating a chance to explain it without making the "customer" feel too dumb. Most Asian movies are at least partly inaccessible to westerners, because there are things in them that will immediately be implicitly understood by an Asian but which remain perfectly obscure for a European...

I don't know if you noticed but in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", there's a moment when Shu-Lien does "something" with Incense sticks. I had no idea of what it meant when I saw the movie (I'm European), but was later explained that depending on the way the sticks burn, it's a presage that shall tell if she will ever get married or not. Any Chinese will immediately understand that, while almost any European, even extremely interested in Chinese culture, will most likely ignore this detail. If the Movie's director had been Eropean, he would probably have introduced a character (a westerner or a kid, for example) to ask "what does it mean?".

To me, that's what Captain Nathan Algren is here for. Except, they've been as far as making him the hero of the movie... It gives the film a different flavour than if it had been a "pure" Asian movie, but I like both.

As for Asian deaths, well... I think there's nothing wrong with dying. Katsumoto dies, and it's the very essence of his gallantry and condition as a samurai. Nomura lives, and it's the very essence of his vile cowardice. The first option is clearly the best to me... As the Hagakure states, the way of the samurai is the way of death. I would personally have made the captain die as well, but... It's a Hollywood movie, it had to have a happy-end!(I mean, happy-end according to western standard. A noble death is an Asian-fashioned happy-end )

#129328 - 05/06/05 12:00 PM Re: The Last Samurai [Re: Tashigae]
imcrazy Offline
cereal killer

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 492
Loc: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
This movie had an excellent story. I too was skeptical of Tom Cruise being in the movie, but he did a good job and iwas quite surprised. At first I was very angry that all the Japanese Samurai died and only Tom lived. However when you look back on it this helps add to the story and also a sense of irony (a white man is the one to bring the sword to the emporer and help him make the decision that he will not sign a contract with the americans).

Anyhow excellent movie, anyone who hasn't seen it should!
The greatest learning and understanding is found in hardship.

#129329 - 08/04/06 12:08 PM Re: The Last Samurai [Re: imcrazy]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Do you know how hard it was to find this rinky-dinky thread?

Anyway, came across a review of the movie that discusses the treatment of Zen Buddhism and Bushido:

#129330 - 08/04/06 01:28 PM Re: The Last Samurai [Re: harlan]
Dereck Offline

Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10416
Loc: Great White North
Interesting read ... I love this movie and is one of my favorites that I own. Have watched it so many times that I get caught up in it that I can almost believe they are going to make it one of these times.

#129331 - 08/04/06 02:10 PM Re: The Last Samurai [Re: Dereck]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
I enjoyed the fictional presentation of the Last Samurai.

I see it as a shortened version of the tv mini-series "Sho-Gun" based on James Clavel's novel of the same name. Sho-Gun is set several hundred years earlier but deals with similar issues of an outsider trying to survive in Japan, with a similarly unlikely premise. (everyone owes it to themselves to see and read Sho-Gun).

I find The Last Samurai interesting as it was set in the same period that Karate was being bourn on Okinawa. A nice contrast to all who believe karate had military asperations. In the 1500's the Okinawan's couldn't stop the Japanese invasion, nor in the late 1800's would it have worked against either army.

Interesting contrast to consider.

One more masterpiece, the book "Last of the Zinja" (originally published as two volumes and then combined into one, is a similar spectacular novel about Japan (and China). The Zinja were martial monks (fictional) and precursors of Zen masters and Ninjutsu, and superb Japanese martial fiction.

Been waiting for the movie for over 20 years now.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#129332 - 08/05/06 12:59 AM Re: The Last Samurai [Re: Victor Smith]
Reiki Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/30/02
Posts: 3403
Loc: MiddleEarth
Just wanted to mention that all the swords and armour in Last Samurai were made by a friend of mine who has just finished part of my new armour!

Most of you prob already know Last Samurai was filmed here in NZ, + we now own one of the stunt horses in our club.
Sword maiden

#129333 - 08/05/06 02:37 AM Re: The Last Samurai [Re: Reiki]
Mr_Heretik Offline

Registered: 05/20/05
Posts: 1074
Loc: Bronx NY, USA

Most of you prob already know Last Samurai was filmed here in NZ, + we now own one of the stunt horses in our club.

Right next to Shadowfax?

#129334 - 08/07/06 04:52 PM Re: The Last Samurai [Re: Mr_Heretik]
Reiki Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/30/02
Posts: 3403
Loc: MiddleEarth
No we don't own Shadowfax, he was in LOTR. But I do know where he is standing at stud.

We bought one of the horses used in the Last Samurai and he is now being used as a jousting horse. He's pretty cruisy and laid back.
Sword maiden

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Accurate information on the ancient martial traditions of the Japanese samurai

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