I’ve just returned from watching this film with a mixture of people from Japanese class, school and MYP; and just have to say that it was awesome ^_^. I’m not in the best mood for writing movie reviews, but I’ll just say that both Tom Cruise (Nathan Algren) and Ken Watanabe (Katsumoto) shone and played the roles extremely well. Tom Cruise has definitely hit a new note with this movie, and will be moving his way quickly up my favourite actor lists if he keeps performing like he did in this film. Ken, well, I knew not of him before this, so I can only say it was a great performance.
It struck me about 2/3 of the way through the movie, full force, about how disciplined the Samurai philosophy really is. There were several points where I was objecting to it, but on the whole, the structure seemed sound and dignified. This was the first movie where I’ve actually come to see a war as justified. The message of honour and courage for a small race of struggling people to ‘die by the sword’ was very well conveyed. The battle scenes were well executed (no pun intended) and filmed, and conveyed the cerebral message just as well as the action sequences. I cried a little towards the end of the movie at the poignancy of the whole situation; as the two sides were in arbitrary combat and killing each other off. I’m still very much against fighting and war, but this movie helped me see how standing up for one’s principles and defending an ancient culture was right, in a sense. It’s all very political when it comes down to it I think. It would be nice to imagine a world where political pressure and conflict didn’t exist, perhaps somewhat like Aristotle’s concept of ‘Eudaimonia’:
“Eu-daimonia literally means having a good daimon, which is to say, a good relationship with divinity (since one’s daimon is that which connects one with the divine).” – http://www.student.yorku.ca/~making/ops02.html
I’m too tired to bother to try and justify eudaimonia at the moment, so hopefully you can just settle for the notion of happiness and living a ‘virtuous’ life for now, that’s what I’m really getting at, and what people have always been striving for I guess… Perhaps there’s a transcendent connection between all the faiths, religions and teachings in the world. I don’t know, but the message at the end of the movie, and arguably, the one the Japanese (particularly Buddhism (?) – don’t quote me on that, I don’t know a lot about Buddhism…) have been walking towards for many, many years, is the one of finding inner peace within yourself and with the world. Karma, is it called? Striving towards nirvana (oblivion)? (*Mental note: must read up on Buddhism more…)
Perhaps that’s why I find the Japanese culture so intriguing. Hmmm. Right now I need to stop writing and go to bed, because I imagine when I read over this again tomorrow I’ll sound intensely odd and fragmented in my thought.