Tom Cruise is one of the few super-famous actors who I believe actually deserve their popularity, who actually are good on stage. He and Johnny Depp are the two I can mention right up front that I feel this way about. The problem with him is how he almost only acts action films, and action is probably my least favorite genre in film. So I really love his performance in 2003’s drama-action-history film The Last Samurai.In The Last Samurai, Tom Cruise is Captain Nathan Algren, a war hero tormented of the memories of the Indian wars in which he acted, and the many innocent he has slayed. As the emperor of Japan wants to civilize his country, extincting the few samurai led by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe), Algren is hired to lead the country’s new troups, basically farmers who hasn’t seen a gun before. After a failed battle in which the entire Japanese army is killed, Algren is captured by Katsumoto. After living with the samurai for a while, he realises that they aren’t the enemy, they are the ones trying to capture the natural beauty of Japan and keep it. Slowly, we are to realise that the emperor isn’t a ”bad guy”, but more of a weak puppet led by assistants and war generals, while the emperor himself is unsure whether to keep or destroy the samurai. Throughout the film, Katsumoto several times says that if the emperor wants him dead, he has but to ask, and he will gladly take his life. The emperor never replies.The Last Samurai is one of my absolute favorite films, a great epic story that has everything: great actors, one of the best music scores ever in film history (by Hans Zimmer), love, death, cool weapons (okay, I admit it, I love Japanese weapons, samurai and ninjas), and a grande ending fight ending with the scene when Captain Alger meets the emperor, and gives him Katsumoto’s katana, and the ending quotes always makes me thrill of epic:”Tell me how he died.””I’ll tell you how he lived.”I never have Swedish subtitles on while watching an English film, but I couldn’t avoid seeing the Swedish title ”Den Siste Samurajen” (”The Last Samurai” in singular) on the cover. What the…? Translators should try getting their facts straight. Director Edward Zwick has himself said that the title refers to the last samurai troop, and NOT Captain Nathan Algren. Get your facts straight.Again: A great film, recommended to everyone. A great epic, with perfect balance of drama, history and action.
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