Number of Times Seen – 2 (17 Oct 2005 and 11 Jul 2017)
Brief Synopsis – A decorated US soldier is hired by the Japanese Emperor in order to train his soldiers in their fight against the samurai.
My Take on it – This is a great epic film that was done right.
The casting of Tom Cruise was a very intelligent choice because he is able to make us truly believe that his character is a tortured soul based on his past.
The idea of a character going to war against a different culture and ultimately siding with them is not a new theme in Hollywood movies and many may believe that this theme has been overused.
I think it’s unfair to compare these kind of films and it’s more important to look at the way each of them deals with the varying cultural differences instead.
This film does a wonderful job explaining the complex nature of the Japanese value of honor. It may seem like a very foreign concept to Westerners about the importance of honor even during battle but they show us in words and in action how this works among their culture.
We also get a clear idea of how much internal suffering Cruise’s character Nathan Algren is tortured by due his involvement in the campaigns against the Indians.
This seems somewhat analogous to the same type of feelings many soldiers have after returning from war. Prime examples of this are veterans of the Iraqi and Vietnam Wars who suffer because of the acts one must sometimes commit during wartime.
This also ties into the theme of honor because sometimes when these men (and women) suffer from their haunting past actions, they feel that they no longer have any honor because they carried out their duty and the orders given to them.
This film also manages to teach us about numerous other Japanese customs along the way which gives us much more insight into how their culture works.
Bottom Line – Cruise is cast extremely well in this role and we truly believe that he is being tortured on the inside due to his military past. Story is quite reminiscent of other films in the genre yet manages to remain unique based on its main theme staying true to the matter of honor. Gives us a clear view of how the Indian campaign took its toll on soldiers and is quite analogous to modern warfare where soldiers sometimes must follow orders they don’t believe in and question their own honor after having carried out these orders. Gives us very interesting insight into how parts of Japanese customs are observed. Recommended!
MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Contrary to a popular misconception, the title of the film does not refer to Nathan Algren, or even Katsumoto, as the Last Samurai. The word “Samurai” here is in its plural form and is actually referring to Katsumoto’s clan as a whole. (From IMDB)
Rating – Globe Worthy
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