Masculinity in the Last Samurai

Topics: Samurai, The Last Samurai, Boshin War Pages: 6 (1848 words) Published: March 20, 2011
Masculinity/ Femininity Dimension in the Last Samurai

According to Hofstede, Masculinity/ Femininity dimension explains


The way the samurais in the movie were portrait are in fact extremely accurate to those that existed in the 18th century. From as young as seven or eight years of age, boys we turned from kids into killing samurais. In one of the scene’s of the movie, we see two young boys learning to fight with wooden sticks. Although so young, their skills were already better them most everyday adults. When trained further, their acceptance of death on the battlefield became greater and with more appreciation. To die at a battlefield was an honor for them as long as they were brave and what they did involved honor. Another interesting point that the film mentions is that for a Japanese samurai at the time, their sword meant more then anything in their life. As much as their friends an family mattered, nothing compared to the meaning of one’s sword, for it was said that a samurai’s sword was his soul. This way we can see how much the Japanese culture was focused on the samurai and their way of fighting. As the government began pressing on the issue that samurai’s are no longer to exist, a law was passed that no samurai shall be allowed to carry a sword in public or wear their hair in long queues. Many samurai’s unwilling to adapt to the new way of life disobeyed the rules and were therefore brutally punished. A scene in the movie where one of the samurai’s is stopped in the middle of the street an has is hair cut off by the soldiers shows just how fast things were changing. This is also one of the main focuses of the movie, for Japan was no longer using ancient methods, but was now a modernized country.


Koyuki who plays Taka with quiet sadness and torn loyalties between her fallen husband and his killer who she is growing to love.

In the battle preceding his capture, Algren kills a man and is subsequently cared for by the man's widow, Katsumoto's sister, with whom and whose family he forms a bond, despite the obvious barriers keeping them apart.

As Zwick points out, the absence of meaningful dialogue does not diminish the depth of these encounters. "The scenes in which Algren is getting to know Taka, this woman who looks after him every day and doesn't say a word, are very powerful. Here are two people forced to be in each other's lives and yet there are barriers between them - the circumstances, the natural restraint given the difference in cultures, and of course, the language. There are so many obstacles to their connection, yet they connect. It's really a delight for me to see how much Koyuki is able to convey in her look, her gestures and her bearing, and how much Algren understands. It's almost like a silent movie performance."

When untrained troops are, despite Algren’s protest, sent out against him they turn and run. In the slaughter, many are killed and a wounded Algren is taken captive. While Taka, Katsumoto’s sister and widow of a samurai killed by Algren, tends the captive’s wound, there are more flashbacks to Indian camp killings as his recuperation is compounded by the delirium tremens of alcoholic withdrawal. While Algren screams for saké, his journal is being read by Katsumoto. The winter spent in Katsumoto’s mountain village is the narrative core of The Last Samurai.

In spite of this historical epic being "in vogue" at present, there were surprisingly few cliché story elements. Even the requisite (American-made movie) romance with Taka (Koyuki in this role was wonderful) furthered the cross-cultural elements of the plot in such a way that neither culture was violated - and above all the `chemistry' was discreet in Japanese fashion, taking a necessary backseat without overshadowing the main story line, actually adding richness to the process of "going native" for Captain Algren (Cruise). The subplot went far beyond an added market draw. Very tasteful and...
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