The Last Samurai

It’s an undeniably beautiful film, lovingly shot with some extraordinary fight and battle scenes. But…

I’m getting tired of Tom Cruise’s earnest, indefatigable, one-man-who-pulls-through-in-the-end schtick. This was one performance too many for me. Also, I found the film’s constant heavy hammering on the themes of honour and loyalty really tiresome. By the end of the film I was longing to see more of the everyday lives of the rebel villagers, and less of their warriors’ desire to die a glorious death in battle. There are more subtle ways to tell a story about honour.

Finally, the race thing bothered me: the fact that it’s a white man who eventually redeems the honour of the Samurai. I understand why the characters were chosen to work that way, in order to make it fly as a big-budget Hollywood epic, but I found it ugly and patronising nevertheless. I would much rather thave watched this film if it had been a Japanese production, with the focus on Ken Watanabe’s character Katsumoto instead. In fact, you could remove the Tom Cruise character altogether, and you’d end up with a stronger story. The tragedy would be greater, and the emotional impact would be more honest.

2 thoughts on “The Last Samurai

  1. Mark

    I think I agree with you, by and large. I truly love the movie, and have watched it many, many times now…but yes, you do have a point about Cruise’s character.

  2. Andy

    I agree 100% with Martyn,although it is a great film it is nonetheless overexaggerated,but what do you expect from American film producers,I recognised one fictional name from that film and that of true events from 1877 and that was was Omura.The Last Samurai (Saigo Takamori) was replaced with the name Katsumoto,why?.There was no record of an American coming to the aid of the Samurai.Also records show that the last samurai (Takamori)did not die on the field of battle but took off on horseback (after he received gun shot wound to the hip) with his no.2 into the forest where his no.2 beheaded him before taking his own life

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