Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #293 The Last Samurai

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2011 at 7:11 AM

Movie #293 The Last Samurai

(2003, US, d. Edward Zwick)

We’ve seen this story a hundred times. It is the epic that is spoken of in legends, in books, and in cultures. From Pocahontas to Avatar, a hundred filmmakers have tried their hand at this epic. But very few come off as successfully as The Last Samurai, a film produced on a grandiose scale that tries to get the audience to empathize with the alcoholic ex-American ‘hero’ Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) as he attempts to train the new Japanese Imperial Army in Western fighting styles. The year is 1876 and the American Civil War has just ended. The Last Samurai is a film about fighting for the right side. It is a film about ego and about pride. It is a film about honor. It is a film that raises the question: Are you sure you are fighting for the right side? When Algren finds himself to be a POW of a samurai clan, things take a drastic turn. But as the film progresses, he begins to learn their ways. He begins to study his enemy and slowly but surely, come to the conclusion that he has been training the wrong side. A powerful and moving picture, I’ve also made it quite clear on this blog that I’m a huge fan of Tom Cruise. Once again, he proves his chops, getting into character seamlessly here. The Last Samurai is a poignant and relevant film. The action set-pieces will more than suffice modern audiences but it’s the emotional pay-off here that is worth the price of the ticket.

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