‘Emperor’ Movie Review – An Untold Story
Emperor is a one of those movies that gives a glimpse of history that we never seem to really picture correctly.
Taking place in post-war Japan, in the aftermath of Emperor Hirohito’s World War II surrender, we witness the unfolding of the American occupation of Japan led by General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones), assisted by General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox), an expert in Japanese culture, who is tasked with investigating the role of the highly worshipped Japanese Emperor in the war.
First and foremost, the performances in this movie are what drives it. Tommy Lee Jones is masterful as the supreme commander of the allied force and Matthew fox deliver his trademark soft intensity with gusto. The scenes between these two consummate actors are simply a joy to watch and really establish the tone of the movie.
The other thing that really stands out in Emperor is the stunning visual depiction of what happens after a world war. We often forget how much the Japanese people suffered from the devastation of WWII and this movie is a reminder of that. From the utter devastation of Tokyo to the quiet humiliation suffered through the occupation, we get to see a side of this war that didn’t quite make it in the news.
Interestingly enough, the emperor himself has an interesting presence throughout the movie. Not a physical one but a presence felt nonetheless. Kind of like having a celebrity in the building but no one sees him except a select few. He is the most talked about character in the whole movie yet he is also the one we see the least. It sort of builds up the anticipation into what I would qualify as one of the greatest scene in the film.
If I have to find a flaw in this wonderful movie, it would have to be the inclusion of the love story between Fellers and Aya Shimada (Eriko Hatsune). While it could have been a useful device to advance the story, it felt mostly forced into what would have otherwise been an epic historical movie. Not a showstopper by any means but it just did not do it for me.
Overall, Emperor is a fantastic film on a dramatic topic carried by strong performances. It is one thing to read about the aftermath of WWII but it is another all together to get a fictionalized yet historically pertinent view of what happened. If you are a history buff, Emperor is absolutely worth a watch and if you are not one, go see it anyways; you might learn a thing or two.
In the meantime, check out some photos of the film below along with the trailer of the movie to give you an idea of what you can expect.
Emperor is now out in theaters.
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