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The Last Samurai Cultural Analysis

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Introduction In 1876, Captain Nathan Algren, an ex- United States Army Captain is traumatized by experience fighting in the civil war and Indian war. Algren accepts a job by a Japanese businessman to train the Imperial Japanese Army to inhibit a samurai rebellion, led by Katsumoto Moritsugu. He sails to Japan. Most of the soldiers being trained are just slightly better than peasants and farmers that are not experienced. The training is cut off when the samurai rebels attack a railroad owned by Omura (Joshi, 2015). Algren is forced to lead the inexperienced conscripts to engage Katsumoto. Leading his untried troops into battle, Algren lost the battle and is taken captive to the rebel’s village (Ebert, 2003). As time passes, Algren overcomes…show more content…
Anthropologist Edward T. Hall’s theory of high- and low-context culture helps us better understand the powerful effect culture has on communication. A key factor in his theory is context. This relates to the framework, background, and surrounding circumstances in which communication or an event takes place. The following highlights the problems facing low-context Americans when they interact with people from high-context cultures such as Japan in the movie ‘The Last Samurai’. In our notes, it is stated that the high-context culture rely heavily on non-verbal cues to maintain social harmony. This includes many Asian and the Middle Eastern cultures. On the other hand, low-context culture uses language primarily to express thoughts, feelings and idea as directly and logically as possible. Such examples are the American and the European cultures. Although the main conflict of the film lies within the Japanese culture, it encompasses the loss of cultural identity, and how some Japanese choose to embrace a more modern, western culture. By doing so, it pushes the cultural differences to the…show more content…
Katsumoto, on the other hand, dresses in traditional clothing. So do everyone in his village. Katsumoto is the only person in his village that can speak English. The differences between the cultures is most prominent however, in the styles of both verbal and nonverbal communication. Americans are a very direct people when communication style is considered. They often ask specific questions and say straightforward things. They do not “sugar-coat” words to save someone’s feelings, or to “save face”. The Japanese, on the other hand are an indirect culture where they are very ambiguous at times. Katsumoto demonstrated this when asked by Nathan Algren, an American soldier, “What do you want from me?” Katsumoto’s response was “What do you want from yourself?” Katsumoto was very evasive about answering such a direct
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