Emperor (2012) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • As the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II, General Fellers is tasked with deciding if Emperor Hirohito will be hanged as a war criminal. Influencing his ruling is his quest to find Aya, an exchange student he met years earlier in the U.S.

  • A story of love and understanding set amidst the tensions and uncertainties of the days immediately following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. On the staff of General Douglas MacArthur (Jones), the de facto ruler of Japan as Supreme Commander of the occupying forces, a leading Japanese expert, General Bonner Fellers (Fox) is charged with reaching a decision of historical importance: should Emperor Hirohito be tried and hanged as a war criminal? Interwoven is the story of Fellers' love affair with Aya, a Japanese exchange student he had met years previously in the U.S. Memories of Aya and his quest to find her in the ravaged post-war landscape help Fellers to discover both his wisdom and his humanity and enable him to come to the momentous decision that changed the course of history and the future of two nations.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • In the largely unexplored world of the early days of the American Occupation following Japan's catastrophic defeat, Emperor tells a fictionalized account based on the real life story of US Army Brigadier General Bonner Frank Fellers (Mathew Fox) who served under General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones). Fellers is given the impossible task to investigate the Emperor's role in the lead-up to war, most specifically his involvement in the decision to attack Pearl Harbor within ten days. This is a great responsibility to which Fellers, a known Japan aficionado who had spent time in Japan before the war, must handle delicately, or risk a general uprising or worse. He will question the accused Class -A War Criminals such as Wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, Former Prime Minister Konoe, and Koichi Kido while confronting prejudice from a resentful populace and other American soldiers. Complicating this task is General Richter (Colin Moy) who is bent on derailing Fellers' investigation in order to justify revenge upon the Emperor. As Richter conveys the American Public's demand for revenge, "Revenge is not Justice" argues Fellers. To conduct his investigation, Fellers is assigned a staff and further assisted by Takahashi (Haneda Masayoshi) who is assigned to him as both interpreter and driver who serves diligently without reservation. Takahashi is initially treated with cold indifference by Fellers who is both under the strain of his investigation and his preoccupation with finding his pre-war love interest Aya Shimada (Hatsune Eriko) to which Fellers deliberately steered bombing missions away from her home, Richter will attempt to use this information against him. Post-War tensions, dramatic sets, period costume, and an all star international cast make Emperor a most revealing riveting drama of the Post-War Era.

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