2.13.2005

The Last Samurai

I watched The Last Samurai again last night on HBO. This truly is a great film depicting the sociological emergence of a nation as it struggles with it historical cultural connections and the coming wave of modernity.

Rarely does a picture tell the story through song and music. However, Hans Zimmer's scores do in fact connect you to the story through song. As I listen to the soundtrack I can close my eyes and see Katsumoto, played by the excellent Ken Watanabe, observing Nathan Algren, played by Tom Cruise, struggling to defend himself in battle from an inevitable death. As the events pass, Katsumoto witnesses the next phrase of his yet unfinished poem.

It is rare for me to enjoy a Tom Cruise film. I usually come to the conclusion that the films he stars in are great films, yet suffer as a result of his acting. Though, in "The Last Samurai" Cruise excels as an fortunate soldier that seeks death, not through battle with a human enemy, but a battle with his own demons of sorrow and guilt. His emotions only controllable in battle, Cruise discovers a life in the Samurai that impresses him. He connects the dedication of the Samurai to his own dedication. Where the two tales clash, Cruise discovers where his path took a wrong turn.

Edward Zwick directs a picture that I think was snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the category of best picture and direction. Perhaps because this film was a Warner Bros release and Mystic River was also released by Warner Bros it did not crowd the nominations with two Warner releases.

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