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The Last Samurai Zwick, Ed

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The Last Samurai Zwick, Ed (2003)

Based in the 1870's Nathan, a cynical vet and alcoholic, from the American Civil War who happens to be troubled from his past history, finds himself in the middle of another type of war based in Japan between the Westernized society, who prefer to embrace the modernized societies way of living and the traditionalized Samurai, who prefer to live their life based on a sacred dynasty of the Samurai. The film's plot was inspired by the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion led by Saigō Takamori, and on the westernization of Japan by colonial powers, though this is largely attributed to the United States in the film for American audiences." (

The new government created a conscripted army in 1873; many of the officers were drawn from the ranks of former samurai. In 1877, angry ex-samurai revolted against the Meiji in the Satsuma Rebellion; they lost the Battle of Shiroyama, and the era of the samurai was over. Ansart, (2007) According to History professor Cathy Schultz: " ... many samurai fought Meiji modernization not for altruistic reasons but because it challenged their status as the privileged warrior caste. Meiji reformers proposed the radical idea that all men essentially being equal ... The film also misses the historical reality that lots and lots of Meiji policy advisors were former samurai, who had voluntarily given up their traditional privileges to follow a course they believed would strengthen Japan." Schultz, 2010 Compassion is an emotion which the Samurai humbly express.

The Emperor is eager to import Western ideas and practices to modernize and empower Japan to become a strong nation. Nathan is capture by the Samurai; his life is spared by Katsumoto, a warrior-poet who was once Emperor Meiji's most-trusted teacher. Katsmoto spares Algren's life after he defeats Hirotaro, the leading samurai warrior, due to an earlier vision of a Tiger fighting to stay alive. This is a great story "about two warriors whose cultures make them aliens, but whose values make them comrades" Robert Ebert You definitely see the internal conflict within Nathan, in which he must choose how to act, especially now that he is in their domain and residing as a prisoner in their hometown. There is a scene in the movie where Nathan is residing with Katsumoto's sister, Taka, whose husband Captain Algren killed earlier in the movie, and in spite of this fact, she remains polite to Captain Algren. In this day and age if this were to occur it would be hard to imagine a person to respect this man. However, there are still many people in this world who show respect for others and this is a great trait.

This movie was played in a chronological order, as the events in the movie's plot follow the same order. Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). It takes place in Tokyo, Japan in the 1870's. Nathan Algren, played by Tom Cruise, indeed has an internal conflict due the American Indian wars and has been haunted of vicious images from that time. Nathan being the protagonist is now being shipped to Tokyo, Japan to train the militia who are preparing to fight the samurai people for not conforming to the new age laws the Emperor has now bestowed upon his people. The antagonists in this film are definitely the Emperors right hand man Omura, played by Masato Harada, who will stop at nothing to make sure order is taken into account and even acts as though he speaks for the Emperor at all times. He is a bottom feeder.

There is definitely some dramatic irony throughout this movie. The film does stay true to the time that this type of lifestyle existed. We have many impersonators in the film who are mainly extra's that are standing in to play the roles of the samurai where as the main characters, Tom Cruise, who plays as Nathan Algren, Ken Watanabe, who plays as Katsumoto are the star actors whereas Simon Graham, who plays as Timothy Spell (the interpreter for Nathan) is the personality actor. Shichinosuke Nakamura who played as Emperor Meiji was said that his appearance bears a strong resemblance to Emperor Meiji during the 1860s rather than during the 1870s, when The Last Samurai takes place. "Acting is, to be sure, an inexact science. It is as much technique as feeling...actors are critical in bringing a character to life for the audience by interpreting the intentions of the writer and director. But an actor is also a tool of the director, really just one more part of the scene that helps to tell the story to the audience." Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011)

Inspired by a project by Vincent Ward, it interested Edward Zwick, and Ward later served as executive producer. The film production went ahead with Zwick and was shot in Ward's native land of New Zealand, mostly in the Taranaki region, with Japanese cast members and an American production crew. This location was chosen due to the fact that Egmont / Mount Taranaki resembles Mount Fuji, and also because there is a lot of forest and farmland in the Taranaki region. This acted as a backdrop for many scenes, as opposed to the built up cities of Japan. Several of the village scenes were shot on the Warner Brothers Studios back lot in Burbank, California. I feel that the mise en scene for this particular movie was a great choice. The settings and sets were so realistic that I felt as though I was experiencing the actual event and walked away with a piece of Japanese History just based on the background, props costumes and actors. Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011).

This is mainly where the cinematography comes into play, since the mese en scene is interpreted and intensified by the cinematographer...the lighting...which are designed by the cinematographer. "The cinematographer's job is to translate the director's vision for the film, to capture what the director wants to see and to say, and to physically make that happen." Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). The cinematography was done by John Toll, he has worked on films such as Legends of the fall Zwick (1994) and Braveheart Gibson (1995) John Toll (Internet Movie Database).

Genre can be placed as an action and adventure film or a drama. The character types are martial artists - the samurais, who are considered to be the good guys, there is always some type of action occurring which usually ends in sword fighting. The editor, Steven Rosenblum, has chosen the fight scenes and for good reason since the Samurais are fighting to keep their livelihood as samurai's alive. "Genres are important when it comes to movies because they tend to use familiar story formulas, such as character types, settings, and iconography or in Laments terms, a visual imagery with symbolic implications.... this is important because in



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