THE LAST SAMUARI Essay

This essay has a total of 756 words and 4 pages.

THE LAST SAMUARI

"The Last Samurai" is a film centred around the idea of journeying, physically,
spiritually, emotionally and mentally. We witness these journeys not only through
observations of a character going through a personal transformation but a whole culture
around him who is likewise in turmoil. This film allows us to join in on an adventure and
journey of the character, the world he enters and the people he meets.


The story is based on a time just after the Civil War, a time when the modern western
world which had just encroached upon the American West, condemning the Native American,
began to engulf traditional Japan as well. The purpose of this film is to give a voice to
these people, to share in their struggles and experiences and be enlightened, as the
protagonist is, at their way of living and their out look on life and its purpose. The
audience is simply people with a connection to the struggles of a culture undergoing rapid
changes by modern development. Any person passionate about culture and tradition and
simply, any person who can open their mind to a world unknown to them and to learn from
it. As well as this we must recognise that it is a Hollywood production and its purpose
first and foremost would be entertainment, and being able to satisfy the wants of the
majority.


The film's two main characters help convey meanings throughout the entire film about the
journeys that are undergone. Katsumoto, the last remaining leader of the Samurai and in
particular Captain Nathan Algren, a man adrift, living in a body that pains him, and a
soul that wont let him forget. Katsumoto's challenge to maintain his personal principals
in a society that no longer values them, his struggle, especially in combination with
Algren's own reluctant spiritual journey; convey deep seated images and emotions in
relation to the hardships and struggles of their journeys. This idea of a physical journey
is easily conveyed through the use of scenery. We get to witness the extent of the
physical journey by viewing the changing environment. This technique is something that not
only highlights the actual physical journey, but the extent of the changes that the
protagonist is going through in relation to his changing situations. This technique is
achieved most effectively by the camera shots used, in particular the use of
cinematography and indeed panning.


Throughout the film we are taken on the heroic journey of the powerful character of
Captain Nathan Algren, a person who travels a great distance, literally and figuratively
to find himself and his values. Captain Algren emerges as a truly tormented figure, a man
who has lost faith, an extremely vulnerable figure, not your typical stock movie hero. He
is a lost soul searching to find his way. Edward Zwick allows you to witness this journey
through his use of gradual development throughout the film. As the character discovers, so
do you and so on. You are therefore just that bit closer personally to each of the
characters, and their journey.
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