Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Emperor" plots a bit with Post WWII history in Japan (and it does "plod")


Emperor”  is the second major “foreign” film this week (actually, from New Zealand) about life in an “occupied” country after surrender at the end of World War II.

In fact, the film begins with the shorts of Hiroshima’s atomic bombs, but it won’t go the course ‘Hiroshima, Mon Amour” (which came to William and Mary in the fall of 1961 my one semester there).

General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) has the job of stabilizing Japan and wants to run for president. He “hires” JAG General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) to investigate the role of Emperor Hirohito in any war crimes. 

The film shows some of the post war destruction to Tokyo, and offers some flashback where has a romance with a Japanese woman (Eriko Hatsune) about the time that Pearl Harbor was approaching.

The dramatic content of this historical film doesn’t seem particularly compelling. Fellers gradually develops evidence that Hirohito really did play a role in Japan’s willingness to surrender. Despite two nuclear detonations, Japan’s militarists still wanted to fight on.

Fellers looks at the emperor’s “library”, and notes that Japanese soldiers worshipped the emperor as a “god”.  That made them dedicated and loyal fighters, compared to Americans, so the script says.  Hirohito hardly looks like a “god” in the final “confrontation” however.
  
The official site is here. The film, directed by Peter Webber, is distributed by Roadside Attractions, often associated with Lionsgate.

I saw the late show Friday night in the large auditorium at the AMC Shirlington in Arlington, but the turnout was quite small.  

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