The last Samurai

Article

August 14, 2022

The Last Samurai is a 2003 American epic drama film directed by Edward Zwick, who also co-wrote the screenplay based on a story by John Logan. The film tells the story of an American officer who gets to know the life of the samurai and joins their rebellion, protesting against the reforms intended to open Japan to Western influence.

Plot

The year is 1876, Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) has become an alcoholic, as he is troubled by the memories of how he, as an officer of the American army, participated in the massacre of Indians during the Indian Wars, commanded by Colonel Bagley (Tony Goldwyn). Algren accepts (just for the pay) a job brokered by Bagley on behalf of Japanese businessman Omura (Masato Harada): training soldiers in the newly formed Imperial Japanese Army to suppress a samurai uprising led by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe). Japan is currently undergoing the reforms of the Meiji Emperor, opening up to industrialization and the influence of the Western world; Katsumoto leads rebels who see this influence as harmful to Japan. Despite Algren's protests, Omura orders the soldiers to be sent into battle before they are properly trained, relying on their superior numbers and the advantage of rifles against the samurai's bows and swords. However, Katsumoto's army disperses them and Algren is captured by them. Katsumoto does not kill him because he wants to know his enemy. Algren learns about the life and culture of the samurai and is captivated by their sense of service, discipline, sacrifice and the pursuit of perfection. He becomes close to Taka, whose husband was killed in battle, and her children. He finds balance and sleeps peacefully after a long time. He learns the samurai style of fighting and helps defend the village from an attack by Omura's ninjas. He learns about the philosophy of the samurai and their habit of ritual suicide, seppuku; Katsumoto sees his rebellion as a service to the emperor, whose teacher he used to be: "If the emperor wanted my death, one word would be enough for him". In the spring, Katsumoto grants Algren his freedom, takes him to Tokyo, and tries to convince the emperor that reforms are not in Japan's interest. He discovers that the emperor is too weak to defy those pushing for reform. Katsumoto is imprisoned for disobeying the law forbidding samurai to carry a weapon. Algren refuses to reveal the strength and situation of the rebels, for which Omura tries to kill him. Algren frees Katsumoto and escapes with the remaining samurai; In the process, Katsumoto's son is injured and sacrifices himself to hold off the enemies. Katsumoto is devastated that his efforts have failed, but Algren is convinced that right now Japan is in dire need of samurai values. The emperor will send against the samurai a much larger, more trained and more modern armed army than before. Algren offers Katsumoto his help in the fight, explaining that "they have come to destroy what I have come to love". Algren's tactics are successful: the samurai lure the emperor's army into a trap and inflict huge losses on it. However, they are well aware that they have no hope of defeating the other Imperial troops that will come. They therefore decide to die honorably in battle. They will conduct a raid against the rest of the Imperial troops and their howitzers. They kill many enemies and Algren kills Bagley, but they have no hope against the latest weapon of the Japanese army - Gatling machine guns supplied by the Americans. The samurai are killed and both Algren and Katsumoto are badly injured. Algren agrees to Katsumoto's plea to help him end his life by ritual suicide. The Imperial soldiers are moved by the bravery of the samurai and pay their respects. Algren is captured and brought before the Emperor just as the Japan-US Modernization and Cooperation Treaty is being signed. He hands Kakumoto's sword to the emperor: (Algren): He with his last breath dou