Starring: Matthew Fox, Tommy Lee Jones, Eriko Hatsune, Takatarô Kataoka
Directed by Peter Webber
Run Time:106 mins
Genre: Drama/ History/ War
Opens March 8th
By Lisa Minzey of The Reel Critic.com
Honor. Loyalty. Devotion to their country’s leader. These principles have presided over Japan for more than 2000 years. Americans may never fully understand these notions as our culture is younger and was formed under enlightenment principles. During World War II, these notions were followed to the letter by the Japanese and their involvement of engaging the United States in warfare. Inspired by the true story and adapted from the book “His Majesty’s Salvation” by Shiro Okamoto “Emperor” takes a look at the moments of the time of Japan’ surrender to the investigation and occupation from U.S. Forces participation in the rebuilding of Japan.
V - J Day and V-E Day were some of the best days of 1946. General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) had been assigned along with the General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) with the task of rebuild Japan after the surrender of the Emperor. Their massive feat was within 10 days; conduct an investigation on the involvement of Emperor Hirohito’s (Takatarô Kataoka) role in World War II. The Japanese Emperor is worshiped as a god by his people, along with an ingrained belief in honor and sacrifice, makes this investigation severely challenging.
Adding fuel to the fire is Gen. Fellers’ pre-war involvement with a Japanese woman Aya (Eriko Hatsune) he met years before while living in the United States. They met on their college campus; she being a transfer student whose family had military ties. Aya had to leave the states suddenly, and years later prior to the start of World War II, Fellers traveled to japan again, studying her culture and the psychology of the Japanese warrior.
Can Fellers succeed in his investigation into finding the Emperor free of guilt or that by his order, millions of men and women suffered from horrible deaths, leaving his country in ruins?
There are so many things, event and ideals that are not taught in schools that make you wonder "Why I didn’t hear about this as a kid?". We (or at least most of us) get the cliff notes of history but really don’t seek out the other side of the story, such as this one. World War II has so many different untold stories and seeing a film like this makes the history buff in me want to research a little more because it’s intriguing. Many people lost their lives but who were the people and their involvement in rebuilding? What was going behind the scenes of leader’s closed doors, war rooms and private offices? Could one phrase, one word, look or decision saved millions of lives? What “Emperor” did right was ask these questions in a subtle, honorable way. Director Peter Webber presents a poignant tale of love, honor and the dark side of humanity and sheds light on the steps to try and rebuild. It’s an intriguing look at a war story that has not been widely known and brings humanity to a dark and chaotic time in history. The love story wrapped into the main plot was a weakly developed, shown through flashbacks. The chemistry between the love interests Gen. Fellers and Aya was severely understated and made the pacing lag. The real life characters portrayed by Matthew Fox, Tommy Lee Jones, Takatarô Kataoka are well represented, with the most memorable lines coming from Jones as General Douglas MacArthur. If you’re a history buff or interested in this era, be sure to check out Emperor when it opens in theaters starting Friday March 8, 2013.