月曜日, 11月 10, 2003

Last Samurai, cont'd...

Did a bit more thinking about The Last Samurai...

It was rumored to be a Dances With Wolves in Meiji Japan, and I can see the similarities. Indeed, the film is at its weakest when Tom Cruise's character plays the morose Westerner who just fits in so well. >_<

But while I'm always annoyed by the patronizing Hollywood stereotype of noble savages, I didn't feel the same way about the samurai. Sure, there's a geek fanboy ("Look! Ama Kakeru Ryuu no Hirameki!") kind of admiration which I happen to share, but the samurai have always inspired this reaction.

It's also fascinating to compare an American reaction to this movie to a Japanese reaction and a Taiwanese reaction. The American one will have that large fanboy element. As for the Japanese--I have no idea. Is it fashionable over there to act cynical about the imperial past? Or are they proud of their ancestors' achievements? Also, the movie develops quite a negative slant on the Meiji modernization. Which side will Japanese viewers take?

As for a Taiwanese reaction:

As I watched both the samurai and imperial soldiers train and fight, I couldn't help thinking: we were next. They killed each other for a few years and then started conquering the rest of Asia. Of all the former colonies, Taiwan still retains the most positive impression of the Japanese. But you still feel a frisson of fear when you survey all that stoic discipline and fanatical loyalty. It's dread, admiration, pain, and pleasure all rolled in one.

Historical memory can be such a double-edged blade.

1 Comments:

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