Imperialism In The Last Samurai

Good Essays
The Last Samurai is a historical fiction film that portrays imperialism in Asia during the 18th and 19th century as well as its effects from the perspective of the natives. Nathan Algren, a veteran of the Civil and Indian Wars is hired to train the Japanese army in Tokyo. The emperor 's assistant Omura wants to wipe out the natives, the Samurai. During an initial battle between the Samurai and the marginally trained Japanese, Algren is taken captive by the Samurai and brought to their village. Winter comes and Algren must remain in the village until spring so that passage back to Tokyo is safe. While Algren has a negative attitude towards the village, he soon assimilates to their customs and begins to view his stay as an experience, not a punishment.…show more content…
They 're savages with bows and arrows '" (The Last 00:30:24).The Colonel immediately assumes that the Samurai are powerless natives that follow a primitive lifestyle and will be easily crushed by the Imperial Army. Algren, however, is not so sure of this, but Bagley initiates the attack regardless of Algren 's input. The little respect that the Colonel shows for the Samurai demonstrates ethnocentrism because the Colonel believes the Americans are superior to the Japanese. During the 18th and 19th century imperializing nations ' only concern was profit, so they exploited and manipulated the less modernized countries. Although Algren has a less rude outlook on the Samurai, in one scene of the movie Algren says to Katsumoto, "‘There was once a battle at a place called Thermopylae, where three hundred brave Greeks held off a Persian army of a million men... a million, you understand this number '" (The Last 02:10:31).This quote demonstrates that the imperialists believe that the foreigners are not educated. Algren is having a conversation with Katsumoto about the battle that is approaching and treats Katsumoto as if he is a child because he does not think that Katsumoto knows how to do math because of his background.…show more content…
Ethnocentricity and heroism are greatly evident in The Last Samurai because of the courageous actions taken by the Samurai to defend their culture from the prejudiced imperialists. Ethnocentricity played a huge role during imperialism in the 18th and 19th centuries because it caused nationalism to emerge in the native lands. This was demonstrated in the movie when the Americans trained the Imperial Army, as the time went on and the emperor saw the good in the Samurai, he felt guilty that his view of Japan had become clouded and caused their extinction. Soon after, the emperor terminated the contract with the United States because he came to realize that the Japanese were beginning to lose their traditional culture. The emperor said, "‘I have dreamed of a unified Japan. Of a country strong and independent and modern. We have railroads and cannon, Western clothing. But we cannot forget who we are. Or where we come from '" (The Last 02:33:12). Heroism was also greatly evident in the film because of the courage of the Samurai that kept them from giving up. Similar to the independence movement in India along with many of the other countries, the natives simply did not give up and their perseverance allowed them to eventually rid themselves of foreign rule. In the movie, Katsumoto 's will to fight off the Imperial Army even though he didn 't have a chance demonstrated heroism as well as the Samurai 's will to defend their homeland until their last breath. All in all, The
Get Access