I need some assistance with these assignment. the positive and negative aspects of the racial portrayal of japan in the last samurai film Thank you in advance for the help! Lastly, the assertion by some movie critics that the film was racist because Captain Algren was shown as the “white savior” to undecided Japanese will be scrutinized.
Overall The Last Samurai portrays Japan and the Japanese in a noble light. Although according to the DVD extras the movie was filmed in New Zealand, the setting represented Japan during the late 1800s. The Japanese characters were shown as individuals, instead of the normal Hollywood depiction of Japanese as all being the stereotypical aloof ninja or Buddhist pacifist.
Even though The Last Samurai did not portray the typical Hollywood version of Japanese, the movie still had flaws because of the perceptions Americans have about Japan during the late 1800s. An example is the portrayal of the Samurais themselves. Katsumoto was shown to be a Samurai whose only wish was to preserve the Samurai way. Americans have long idealized Samurais as just warriors. In reality, Samurais were corrupt. That is why the Imperial Japanese army wanted to eradicate the samurai, not because they wanted to modernize and forget Japanese history.
Another stereotype is of Emperor Meiji. The Last Samurai portrayed the Emperor as ineffectual and weak, but in the end, had the ultimate decision to modernizing his army and ending the Samurai way of life. Businessmen like Omura, the council, and even Captain Algren could sway Emperor Meiji. In reality, Emperor Meiji had little or no power for anyone to sway. He was basically a figurehead. However, the council shown in the film did not have power in Japan during Emperor Meiji’s reign. The Samurais, and later the modernized Japanese army, ruled the country. The portrayal of Emperor Meiji is an American image of a Japanese emperor.
Hollywood’s perceptions about race held political correctness in this film. For instance Captain Algren’s remorse for the Native American Indians, he slaughtered during his stint in the Union army.
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