The Last Samurai

Since we have exclusive membership priviliages at our local Blockbuster, we got out 3 movies on Saturday night for the price of 1. Conveniently, they were all movies chosen by me! So last night I settled in to watch another film which I knew very little about – The Last Samurai.

It turns out that the storyline is basically the same as the Kevin Costner film Dances with Wolves, with only 3 main changes:

  • Instead of Native American Indians, the “enemy” is the Japanese Samurai
  • Similarly, instead of being based on the outback plains of America, it’s based in the beautiful Japanese countryside
  • Instead of running for over 3 hours, it goes for just over 2

For those of you that haven’t seen Dances with Wolves (or for those of you that have wiped it from your memory), the story is basically thus: American war hero Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) has been hired to train a Japanese army in the ways of western warfare. During a struggle, he is captured by the Samurai, and taken back to their village for the duration of the winter. During his time there, he learns to appreciate their art of fighting and the beauty of their culture, so much so that he eventually fights alongside them against the army he was hired to train.

Superficially, I have always been intrigued by the old-school Japanese culture – their architecture, dress, customs, etc – and the combination of this with the breathtaking scenery makes the film an absolute visual smorasboard. The acting is solid, the storyline is well played out, and the soundtrack is very good. Not a film that moved me to tears, but I was overall very pleased with my selection. rating: 7.5/10.

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