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IS_220_April_04_Last_Samurai - IS 220 Introduction to Japan...

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IS 220 Introduction to Japan April 4, 2008 A critique of The Last Samurai (2003). Historical events: Boshin war (1876-77), leading to the Meiji Restoration The Southern Han (Satsuma-Choshu) were better equipped with modern armaments. Satsuma Rebellion (1877), led by Saigo Takamori, who had been instrumental in defeating the Shogunate previously. The rebels used modern cannons and armaments, although as the conflict ended they ran out of ammunition and had to resort to close- quarter tactics. First, you should note that TLS is an American film and therefore reflects American concerns as understood by the Hollywood film industry. The very first scene makes a statement, not about Japan, but about America, which, is portrayed as a country hypocritically seeing itself as heroic while actually founded on ruthless slaughter of helpless American Indians. The first scene shows the American people as having a fake view of history which the protagonist, Algren, despises. He was traumatized by serving under General George Armstrong Custer, an arrogant killer who finally bit off more than he could chew. A contemporary American sense of a lack of spiritual foundation, and the belief that this was so in the past, leads the protagonist to seek spiritual values in non-Western culture, that is, Japanese culture, which becomes a kind of substitute for American Indian culture.
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