Monday, April 21, 2008

The Last Samurai

We watched The Last Samurai again on Saturday. I think one of its themes is that the individual warrior is often more honorable than the politicians who exploit his skills. Tom Cruise's character at the beginning of the film demonstrates the personal disintegration that results from putting one's obedience to superiors before one's duty to do the right thing.

The movie idealizes Samurai lifestyle -- which historically developed from a culture of feuding warlords -- and contrasts it to the American who sells himself to the highest bidder. The Samurai, on the other hand, rebel against the emperor's government to express their loyalty to the highest ideals of the emperor.

Cruise's character finds "redemption" as he learns the lesson that a soldier must sometimes disobey a superior officer out of loyalty to a higher authority.

The Last Samurai does not show the uglier side of the bushido code of honor. In many ways, the Japanese culture has valued honor in much the same way as contemporary American ghetto culture. Even the merest slight or hint of disrespect -- real or imagined -- might end with the shedding of blood.

In spite of its idealized portrayal of bushido (and its underlying Buddhism), I believe the Christian Martialist should watch The Last Samurai and recognize to whom his highest loyalty belongs. Neither the emperor nor the president is God. Jesus IS God, and He is our King. God grant that we serve Him in reality with at least the level of nobility as portrayed by the fictionalized warriors in The Last Samurai.
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Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...


Long story short, I found this blog via your daughter. :-D

I liked your review of the film. I completely agree with your take on bushido. The samurai were often brutal and the Japanese sense of honor is very perverted (the modern Japanese mafia, or yakuza, consider themselves the ones who carry on the banner of bushido). The film's anti-western views are, by association, anti-Christian.

But, the battle scenes are absolutely fantastic in this film. They should set a standard for further samurai films. And I do agree, I do like the "warrior" culture. As Omura said, "Their ways have great appeal."

But we can be warriors without stooping to bushido, can't we?


Gravelbelly said...

Welcome, Spencer.

I hope you will become a regular visitor to my blog. Anyone who puts the word "bullets" in the title of his own blog is a potential reader, here. Especially if he's a Christian.

Come again and browse. I welcome your comments.

P.S. I'm not much on opera, either.

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

I'm definitely going to be a permanent reader, I think! Consider me subscribed. :-D

God bless!

P.S. If you liked this movie, have you seen Batman Begins? Gods and Generals?

Gravelbelly said...

Batman Begins, yes (liked it); Gods & Generals, no.

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

You haven't seen it, or didn't like it?

Gravelbelly said...

Haven't seen it. Maybe I'll put it on my Netflix queue.

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Yes, do. It's absolutely fantastic. Superb battle sequences, accurate history, and a good Christian worldview. However I should warn you, if you don't take a Southern view of history you'll disagree with the film. It's good though.

While we are on the subject, what other kind of movies do you like? I can probably recommend you some more really good ones. Or books, for that matter! I'm always open to suggestions myself.


Gravelbelly said...

I may take you up on that, when I have the time to pursue it.