The Last Samurai Essay

Topics: Samurai, Japan, The Last Samurai Pages: 3 (1061 words) Published: April 6, 2013
The Last Samurai

“The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life” (Zwick). These are the words of Katsumoto, an important samurai warrior. The movie The Last Samurai directed by Edward Zwick is about an American War Captain named Nathan Algren who is hired to train, lead and modernize a group of Japanese soldiers to defeat a rebellion of the country's remaining Samurai in 1876. Algren is captured by the Samurai and soon becomes part of the village he is being held hostage in. There, Algren learns from the Samurai and comes to respect them. He finds that his true warrior is becoming unleashed as he trains to become a Samurai with the very people we once called his enemies. Soon, the Japanese forces begin to search for the Samurai again, ready to begin a war with them that will determine the fate of Japanese traditions and their lives. He joins them in the battle against the Japanese army armed with rifles and cannons. All the Samurai warriors die except for Algren. In the end, the Emperor takes the side of Algren and does not sign the trade agreement with the United States. The Emperor says that it is important for the people of Japan to not forget who they are, their customs, and their beliefs. Algren then goes off and lives in the samurai village. Through the course of The Last Samurai, there is evidence of imperialism, the most protruding ones being nationalism and ethnocentrism.

There are several different examples of nationalism that show up in multiple places throughout the film, such as certain samurai customs, the final battle, when samurai visit the council, and when the Emperor did not sign the treaty. The samurai follow traditional customs after they are defeated or shamed in battle. The custom says that if a samurai is defeated in battle, he must take his own life to spare himself the shame of capture. For example, when Algren was first captured, he witnessed Katsumoto...
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