A Lasting Impression

imgThe Last Samurai2Epic bio-pictures have been all the rage since the dawn of the “Charlie Chaplin” flick – and quite possibly before that – though most of them idly take on that old formulaic, writing decay and mass-produce cinematic gems in the caliber of “Glitter.”

Edward Zwick’s (Blood Diamond) “The Last Samurai,” however, transcends the typical aspiration of cinematic biographies and lends a clandestine touch of romance of a forgotten period.

Loosely based on the Satsuma Rebellion, following history’s favored “last samurai,” Saigō Takamori, the majority of the plot spans several months as Japan’s samurai attempt to fend off Western influence and maintain their traditional way of life.

In the film, Takamori becomes Lord Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe), an honorable and poetic leader of noble rebels and, presumably, the real-life roles of Jules Brunet, Henry Andres Burgevine and William Adams culminate in the form of tortured soldier, Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise).

A veteran of the Indian Wars, Algren suffers from a shame-induced post-traumatic stress disorder. Reoccurring nightmares of his role in the massacre at the Washita River prevent any extended sobriety and social grace. Desperate for some form of financial security, he agrees to train Japanese troops against the rebel samurai and after an impressive display of valor during a battle, is captured by them.

This is where the intricate plot of the sentimental story begins. كيف تربح في القمار Although initially an outsider in this remote and culturally foreign village, Algren soon comes to know Katsumoto’s family and love their ways.

He begins to speak their language, adopt their customs and admire their discipline.

More than anything else, “The Last Samurai” is a romantic ode to the honor of Bushido – the samurai’s code of honor – and the jidaigeki feel of the epics of the legendary Akira Kurosawa.

Katsumoto discloses that the word, “samurai,” means “to serve.” In this noble, eternal servitude to a perceivably just leader, the essence of humble heroism is revealed. If the emperor desires, the samurai will take his own life. Otherwise, he will fight for the everlasting preservation of his ways.

Cruise presents a surprisingly powerful performance as the haunted Captain, writhing in the throngs of alcoholic desperation and ultimately serene in his newfound peace.

The true treasure of the title is Watanabe, however, as the regal Katsumoto. His presence bears a simultaneous elegance, grace and might that are seldom seen onscreen by modern audiences. لعبه بلاك جاك

A particularly charming presence is lent by Shin Koyomada (Wendy Wu: HomecomingWarrior) as Katsumoto’s son, Nobutada. With an engaging smile and an authentically sweet disposition, Koyomada feasibly adds a sense of gentleness to the stoic way of the warrior.

Emphasized by a deeply moving soundtrack and breathtaking cinematography, “The Last Samurai” is ecstasy for the eye and serenity for the soul.

And the special features on the two-disc DVD set aren’t bad, either.

Comprised of “Tom Cruise: A Warrior’s Journey,” “Edward Zwick: Director’s Video Journal,” “Making an Epic: A Conversation with Edward Zwick and Tom Cruise” and “History VS. Hollywood: The Last Samurai,” the only truly interesting bit is the last, even though it focuses more on the overall history of samurai rather than the actual Satsuma rebellion. العاب مجانية عبر الانترنت Even so, this History Channel special is more than worth a glance.

The remaining features, while informative, are only entertaining of to the viewer with preexistent interest in the subject.

In a quiet, somber fashion, this the film inspires as easily as it compels with stunning performances delivered by all. While living samurai were flawed and human, the strict adherence to the code of Bushido and the strict honor of the warriors of yesteryear in the spectacle leaves a sense of hushed inspiration, as would any conceivably moving display of valor against all odds.

To the history buffs, you know why the end is a tearjerker. To those who aren’t, the dignified denizens of modern Japan are hardly a katana-toting, kimono-clad Bushido band these days.

That doesn’t matter. The predictable outcome of this fray should not dissuade an eager viewer. To quote Algren at the end when asked how Katsumoto died: “Let me tell you how he lived.”

And one can only hope that the real Saigō lived that well.

About Olga Privman 132 Articles
I spent a good decade dabbling in creating metaphysically-inclined narrative fiction and a mercifully short stream of lackluster poetry. A seasoned connoisseur of college majors, I discovered journalism only recently through a mock review for my mock editor, though my respect for the field is hardly laughable. I eventually plan to teach philosophy at a university and write in my free time while traveling the world, scaling mountains and finding other, more creative ways to stimulate adrenaline. Travel journalism, incidentally, would be a dream profession. Potential employers? Feel free to ruthlessly steal me away from the site. I’ll put that overexposed Miss Brown to shame.

1 Comment

  1. Here is an excerpt from your last samurai dvd review:

    …. however, transcends the typical aspiration of cinematic biographies and lends a clandestine touch of romance of a forgotten period.

    I prefer ‘clandestine touch of romance “to” a forgotten period’, instead of, well, “of”– I think it works a bit better i.e. it doesn’t sound slapped together i.e. it is more fluid– see where I am going?

    Ever edificatory in criticism,

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