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The Last Samuari

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"The Last Samurai" is a film centred around the idea of journeying, physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. We witness these journeys not only through observations of a character going through a personal transformation but a whole culture around him who is likewise in turmoil. This film allows us to join in on an adventure and journey of the character, the world he enters and the people he meets.

The story is based on a time just after the Civil War, a time when the modern western world which had just encroached upon the American West, condemning the Native American, began to engulf traditional Japan as well. The purpose of this film is to give a voice to these people, to share in their struggles and experiences and be enlightened, as the protagonist is, at their way of living and their out look on life and its purpose. The audience is simply people with a connection to the struggles of a culture undergoing rapid changes by modern development. Any person passionate about culture and tradition and simply, any person who can open their mind to a world unknown to them and to learn from it. As well as this we must recognise that it is a Hollywood production and its purpose first and foremost would be entertainment, and being able to satisfy the wants of the majority.

The film's two main characters help convey meanings throughout the entire film about the journeys that are undergone. Katsumoto, the last remaining leader of the Samurai and in particular Captain Nathan Algren, a man adrift, living in a body that pains him, and a soul that wont let him forget. Katsumoto's challenge to maintain his personal principals in a society that no longer values them, his struggle, especially in combination with Algren's own reluctant spiritual journey; convey deep seated images and emotions in relation to the hardships and struggles of their journeys. This idea of a physical journey is easily conveyed through the use of scenery. We get to witness the extent of the physical journey by viewing the changing environment. This technique is something that not only highlights the actual physical journey, but the extent of the changes that the protagonist is going through in relation to his changing situations. This technique is achieved most effectively by the camera shots used, in particular the use of cinematography and indeed panning.

Throughout the film we are taken on the heroic journey of the powerful character of Captain Nathan Algren, a person who travels a great distance, literally and figuratively to find himself and his values. Captain Algren emerges as a truly tormented figure, a man who has lost faith, an extremely vulnerable figure, not your typical stock movie hero.



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