Evaluate The Historical Accuracy Of The Samurai Way Of Life Represented In The Film, 'the Last Samurai'

2419 words - 10 pages

"What does it mean to be Samurai?" A class of self-sacrificing knights of ancient Japan, who are bound by a code too sacred to be written down; the ultimate warriors who will take a life, even their own, upon command; and at the same time they are aesthetes, appreciating the beauty of the cherry blossom, comparing its short term to his own life. A Samurai's family was responsible for maintaining the strict moral values placed on him, and his home was the centre of the family unit. They devoted their thoughts and actions entirely to one word, 'Bushido'. Zen and Shinto taught the Samurai peace and respect for nature and others, even in times of great turmoil. It was believed a Samurai's soul was in his sword and he became the master of the 'Katana'. Unfortunately this way of life came to an end during the reign of Emperor Meiji and his reforms for modernisation. The Samurai have inspired countless films and texts which attempt to piece together this almost clandestine class of heroic warriors. 'The Last Samurai' is one such film aimed at portraying the Samurai way of life through a western viewpoint, however archaeological and written evidence both confirm and contradict certain aspects of Edward Zwick's depiction.Not only did a Samurai's actions reflect upon his family, but a Samurai's family and his home reflected equally upon him. Therefore it was important for family and house values to be strong and virtuous. In early modern Japan, the 'family system' was developed where the head of the house would have his extended family live with him. Certain 'house codes' soon followed, which encouraged courtesy and respect to guests not only in your home, but in your village . This was shown in 'The Last Samurai' when Algren notices that "Everyone is polite, everyone smiles and bows". The family unit was important to the balance of the Samurai way of life. They would eat together, as revealed in several occasions in 'The Last Samurai' where they sit around a table, on their knees, eating their staple of rice and quietly talking among themselves. A Samurai's house had to be clean, and there was a stringent etiquette when it came to entering another's home. A scene in 'The Last Samurai' shows Algren entering Taka's house with muddy boots, she quickly cleans up after him, and later refers to him as a "pig" and "repulsive". Turnbull states that to make ones home unclean was the same as dishonoring him, which usually ended in hostility between the two. The housing depicted in the film 'The Last Samurai' is quite accurate, traditional Samurai homes were constructed entirely out of wood, with tile of thatch roves, wooden frames and supports . The film 'The Twilight Samurai' also depicts Samurai housing in the same way. A fallen Samurai's armour would be placed on display in his house and honoured by his family . In the film 'The Last Samurai' Taka's husband's armour is on a mantle, perpetuating his memory and what he had died defending. It can be said that the...

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