Emperor (2012) Poster


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Very interesting story about General Fellers who is given the impossible task to investigate the Emperor's role in the lead-up to war,
ma-cortes3 May 2014
This nice movie tells a fictionalized account based on the actual life story of US Army Brigadier General Bonner Frank Fellers who served under General Douglas MacArthur . On the staff of General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy lee Jones), the de facto ruler of Japan as Supreme Commander of the occupying forces, a leading Japanese expert, General Bonner Fellers (Matthew 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 (Eriko Hatsune), 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.

This is a good drama war with emotion , suspense , thrills , culture clashes , and historical events . The picture contains a marvelous 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. Excellent cast gives good acting as Fox who plays Bonner Fellers, a general who's sent to Japan to decide if Emperor Hirohito will be hanged for war crimes ; starring alongside him is Eriko Hatsune as Aya Shimada, a woman Fellers romanced years earlier, and Tommy Lee Jones as legendary Us military figure General Douglas MacArthur. The movie displays a colorful as well as adequate photography by Stuart Dryburgh . Emotive and evocative musical score by Alex Heffes . The flick was professionally directed by Peter Webber (Hannibal , The girl with a pearl earring). This true life story was one worthy of big-screen treatment .

The picture is well based on true events , these are the followings : After the war, Fellers played a major role in the occupation of Japan. Among his duties was liaison between HQ and the Imperial Household. Soon after occupation began, General Fellers wrote several influential memoranda concerning why it would be advantageous for the occupation, reconstruction of Japan, and U.S. long range interests to keep the Emperor in place if he was not clearly responsible for war crimes. He met with the major defendants of the Tokyo tribunal. In their research and analysis of events and considerable controversy about the time period, according to historians Herbert Bix and John W. Dower, Fellers—under an assignment by the code name "Operation Blacklist"—allowed them to coordinate their stories to exonerate Emperor Hirohito and all members of his family. This was at the direction of MacArthur, now head of SCAP, who had decided that there was to be no criminal prosecution of the Emperor and his family. 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. General Fellers, who came from a Religious Society of Friends family (commonly known as Quakers) and attended the Quaker-affiliated Earlham College, was instrumental in the selection of Elizabeth Vining, an American Quaker educator, as tutor to the Emperor's children. Ms. Vining was followed after 4 years by another Quaker educator, Esther Rhoads.In 1971, Emperor Hirohito conferred on Fellers the Second Order of the Sacred Treasure "in recognition of your long-standing contribution to promoting friendship between Japan and the United States."
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An enjoyable, if a bit dry, historical film
akritchever14 September 2012
Just saw Emperor at TIFF tonight. It was an enjoyable, well made, historical film, but a tad dry. Starring Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur and Matthew Fox as MacArthur's subordinate officer General Fellers, it is set against the backdrop of the early occupation of Japan by U.S. forces after World War 2. MacArthur is faced with a dilemma: he has to prosecute thirty Japanese war criminals - the masterminds of the war - but a question of what to do with Emperor Hirohito looms over him. To leave him alone would invite displeasure from American public and politicians, to arrest and try him for war crimes would endanger the occupation and break the tenuous peace. Jones' MacArthur assigns the task to Matthew Fox's character as he is an expert on Japan - now Fox's character has only 10 days to investigate the Emperor's involvement and come to a decision. In the meantime, the viewers also see flashbacks from Fellers' past, and there is a subplot involving Feller looking for his lost lover.

Tommy Lee Jones is plainly having lots of fun as the blustering larger- than-life Douglas MacArthur, and Matthew Fox delivers a good performance with moments of extreme intensity. Masayoshi Haneda plays a translator and aide and manages to pull off a role that has dignity despite the harrowed and dishevelled appearance of the character. Eriko Hatsune - the love interest of the film - has a fragile beauty but is too reserved throughout the movie to deliver much of an emotional impact. The film was shot in New Zealand and Japan (in fact it's the first movie to film inside the Japanese Imperial Palace) and it's gorgeous - the ruins of bombed out Tokyo are especially impressive, and of course the Imperial Palace as a backdrop is fascinating.

The quibble I had with the movie is that it tries to create a sense of urgency and suspense, but since it's based on historical events it largely fails. Anyone who has taken history in high school should know how it turned out. With the exception of a couple of scenes, there also isn't much of an emotionally charged drama going on either. Although I enjoyed it, I cannot deny that it moved at a more sedate pace and lacked great urgency and suspense.
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Compelling and Thought Provoking
Mary Smith3 March 2013
I recently saw Emperor at a preview ahead of the upcoming March 8 opening. I found it well paced, carefully constructed, and beautifully shot. The interwoven sequences work tightly together. The protagonist's personal past and present personify the larger struggle over how to treat a brutal enemy that's been justifiably vanquished at horrific cost to both sides. Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox deliver emotional performances as military leaders pivoting from years of war to peace. It's an absorbing story that puts you in their characters' shoes, and is compelling and thought provoking even though you know the historical outcome.
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A Tale of Two Emperors
Ray Lahey17 September 2012
Emperor (2012)

In his rule over Japan as Supreme Commander of the occupying forces after World War II, General Douglas MacArthur was probably as benign a dictator as history has recorded. His enlightened policies led to a Japanese post war economic recovery from wartime devastation, and to post-war harmony between Japan and the West that replaced virulent wartime hatred. Emperor deals with his first days in Japan after the Japanese surrender, and in particular, with his momentous decision not to include the Emperor Hirohito among the Japanese war criminals, a judgement made despite political and popular clamor. Allied war propaganda had demonized the Japanese people and Hirohito in particular, and Japanese propaganda had done much the same with the other side. MacArthur's decision became the lynch-pin of his policy there: to respect the cultural differences instead of seeking to override them, and to try to bring together the best that both Japan and the western powers had to offer.

The movie deliberately avoids clarifying which emperor the title refers to. On the surface it may seem to denote Hirohito, but as supreme commander MacArthur had near imperial power, and did not hesitate to use it. The film concentrates on one of his protégés and close advisors, General Bonner Fellers, a Japanese expert on whose opinion MacArthur chooses to rely. Fellers was close to MacArthur, having served with him even before the war. Fellers loved Japan and had visited it, and had produced for the American military a crucial assessment of the Japanese military mind. He had additionally predicted war with Japan well in advance of Pearl Harbour. In real life, Fellers had some connections to Japan, even to the Imperial Household, and he had a close friendship with a former female Japanese exchange student whom he knew from Earlham College in Indiana. He rejoined MacArthur in 1943 and accompanied him during the Supreme Commander's momentous first days in Japan. The film strongly hints that MacArthur had already made up his mind about the treatment of Hirohito, which he almost certainly had, but wanted Fellers to supply the rationale for his decision.

The film has three threads that run throughout: MacArthur's occupation of Japan; Fellers' investigations leading to his written opinion; Fellers' search for his Japanese friend amidst the post-war chaos. It is one thread too many, since while the film juxtaposes these, it does not successfully weave them together. The one exception may be Fellers interview with the Japanese general, supposedly his friend's uncle, since it does much to explain the country's traditions and military attitudes. Director Peter Webber has said quite rightly that MacArthur has not been particularly successfully treated on the screen. In fact, epics like MacArthur (1977) and Inchon (1981) proved to be major disappointments. It seems a shame here that the director and writers Vera Blasi and David Klass did not keep MacArthur as the film's central figure, but instead chose to focus on his subordinate, Fellers.

As MacArthur, Tommy Lee Jones gives an outstanding performance, and the film is worth seeing for that alone. Looking nothing like MacArthur (he didn't try), Jones captures ever bit of "El Supremo's" command and self-confidence, and when he is present on screen, like the General himself, he dominates it. It is just a shame that he doesn't get more screen time. MacArthur is, historically, the man who made the real decisions, and, especially as played by Jones, a figure far more fascinating than Fellers.

By contrast, the part of Fellers (Matthew Fox of "Lost") seems dull, unfocused, and even clumsy, particularly considering the crucial days in which it is set. That is probably not Fox's fault, but a weakness of the screenplay. While the fact that Fellers knew Japan well and was especially friendly with a Japanese girl he had met in college are factors that deserve to enter into the picture, as presented they often tend to be a distraction from its central theme. This is all the more the case since the story of "Aya" appears to contain considerable fiction. Feller's real-life friend from Earlham, Yuri Wantanabe, survived the war, and his connections to Japanese officialdom were probably better than her own. There is the additional fiction that all this is compressed into a ten-day window, when the actual investigations took place over five months.

Still, in playing Aya, Eriko Hatsune renders her subtly, displaying a delicate balance between propriety and concern. Some of the other Japanese actors are equally notable. Especially fine, and especially central to the story, is the portrayal by Masatô Ibu of the Lord Privy Seal, Marquis Koichi Kibo, the highest figure in the Imperial Household and a friend to Hirohito. Ibu is persuasive in presenting a man who attempts to preserve the Emperor's honour – and his privacy – even in the face of the possibility that the Emperor might hang. Masayoshi Haneda also gives a fine performance as Fellers' interpreter and de facto aide. And Takatarô Kataoka is realistic as Emperor Hirohito himself.

The wanderings of the plot are offset in part by the great production values (Grant Major)and fine cinematography (by Stuart Dryburgh). The contrast between the real beauty of Japan and the wartime devastation is particularly effective.

This movie has many good things going for it, particularly Tommy Lee Jones (and MacArthur himself). It's just a pity it didn't capitalize on them more.

Emperor premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2012. It has been acquired for distribution by Lionsgate & Roadside Attractions, but no date for general distribution has yet been announced.
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A very tense look at how the fate of Japan was decided after WWII. Jones is great and history buffs will love this. I did. I say B+
Tony Heck21 July 2013
"This country is starving and teetering on the edge of total collapse. It wouldn't take much for the resentment to ignite into revolt and the fate of the emperor could be just the spark." After the Japanese surrender ends WWII the US Government wants to know who was behind the bombing of Pearl Harbor. General Douglas MacArthur (Jones) charges General Bonner Fellers (Fox) with an important mission. Fellers is to decide if Emperor Hirohito should be charged as a war criminal and hung. To make matters even harder Fellers is also searching for his lost love in the midst of the war ravaged country. Being a history buff I was really looking forward to seeing this movie. This movie really shows the tense decision Fellers was charged with, his conclusion really will decide the fate of an entire country as well as relations between the US and Japan. The movie shows the lengths people will go to protect someone they revere as a God and how close the country came to a completely different future. I really enjoyed this being a history buff but I do have to say for people that aren't as interested in this stuff you may find it a little slow. Overall, a very tense look at one of the most important days of post war Japan. I give it a B+.
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Very Good Movie
Jim Smith14 March 2013
This movie provides a very good depiction of a historically significant event that is all but ignored in movies and text. Seamless transitions between history and entertainment, the cast of this movie (especially the Japanese ones) expertly capture the complexity of what is the Japanese culture and psyche during post WWII reconstruction. Tommy Lee Jones also does an amazing portrayal of MacArthur in copying his mannerisms and affect.

This is a movie for people who appreciate historical context, attention to detail, and subtle references packaged with solid, proportioned acting.
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The Emperor Strikes Back
SteveMierzejewski30 July 2013
I thought I might be the only one who found this film interesting since I spent 7 years in Japan and happened to be there when Emperor Hirohito died. At that time, there was a renewed discussion of how much he was responsible for beginning World War II. In the end, it seemed he was more or less strong-armed into the war by right wing politicians. True, he could be blamed for being weak-willed, but he did not have the mental constitution to be an emperor in the first place. If he could have chosen, he would have been a marine biologist, as marine biology was his hobby and passion. There was no more confusing and cathartic time in Japanese history than when MacArthur and the American military came in to occupy Japan. The entire society had to re-evaluate itself on all levels. How could they, the greatest people in the world, be conquered by such an uncultured civilization? This question persists until the present day.

It was not clear at the beginning of this film whether it was a true story or a story based around true events. If the fact that it was a true story had been made clearer, it would have been more compelling. Nonetheless, it did capture most of the turbulent elements of that time. The love affair, that parallels this story is a good one and one that exposes the prejudice that existed against any Japanese woman who dared marry outside her culture. Eriko Hatsune was perfect in the role of an intelligent woman caught between tradition and emotion. Unfortunately, Matthew Foxx (General Bonner Fellers) acted as if he had been hit by a tranquilizer dart. Tommy Lee Jones overacted the role of MacArthur and was equally unconvincing.

Be warned. This is not an action movie,though a few action scenes exist. This is mainly a movie based on philosophic discussions, psychology, and cultural misunderstandings. Still, it offers a good view of an important time in world history.
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A Strangely Haunting Movie Narrating an Actual Event in American History
l_rawjalaurence20 June 2013
I have to admit I liked this movie a lot. The plot is straightforward: General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) is hired by General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) to investigate the role of Emperor Hirohito (Takataro Kataoka) during World War II, to investigate whether the Emperor should be tried as a war criminal. However the film is about a lot more than just conduct during war; it is a story of cultural adaptation, as Fellers comes to know something about Japanese attitudes towards the conflict, and how they differ significantly from those embraced by the Americans. Eventually the two sides come to an understanding - so much so that Hirohito actually deigns to have a meeting with MacArthur, something hitherto considered unthinkable in Japanese aristocratic culture. Jones' MacArthur is just wonderful - although physically very different from the actual person, the actor captures the mannerisms, the aggressiveness, and the softness lurking beneath an apparently gruff personality.
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'To understand Japan, you must understand Devotion.'
gradyharp3 August 2013
Shiro Okamoto's book 'His Majesty's Salvation' has been adapted for the screen by Vera Blasi and David Klass and renamed EMPEROR. Director Peter Webber (Hannibal Rising, Girl with a Pearl Earring) keeps what might have been a patchwork quilt story tightly woven and if the movie delivers nothing else, it gives insight into the relationship between Japan and the US after the devastation of the atomic bomb and the resultant surrender of Japan. For that alone the film is well worth watching.

The setting of the film is 1945 when General MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) steps onto the shores of Japan as the Supreme Commander of the occupying forces. Assigned to rebuild Japan after the war MacArthur selects General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox), a man with a history with Japan before the war, including a love affair with a Japanese student Aya Shimada (Eriko Hatsune) in America before the war: Aya returned to Japan when relations with between Japan and the US began to dissolve and Fellers followed her for a futile attempt to overcome differences between cultures and impending historic changes, to investigate whether Emperor Hirohito (Takatarô Kataoka) should be tried and hanged as a war criminal. 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. He meets with the advisors to the Emperor, is rebuked by the Japanese citizenry, and is frustrated with the information he is basically unable to gather until he finally arranges through the aid of his translator chauffeur a meeting between the Emperor and MacArthur in which the Emperor's perception of human dignity is presented and MacArthur has found his answer Feller's sought.

Throughout the film we are reminded about the basic cultural differences between not only East and West, but particularly the culture of Japan - a culture deeply dependent on devotion to Emperor and country. It is an enlightening journey for us as audience, one of understanding and respect, and one that should be more widely shared. Matthew Fox does well with his bifurcated role and he is strongly supported by a very fine cast of Japanese actors. This is a film from which we all can learn important issues while being entertained with a fine period piece.

Grady Harp
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The Genesis of a Decision
bkoganbing14 August 2013
In the fine biographical movie MacArthur which starred Gregory Peck as the controversial general only a small part was devoted to the years as Supreme Commander Allied Powers in charge of the occupation of Japan. Even liberal historians give Douglas MacArthur credit for the vast and peaceful societal change that our occupation of Japan post World War II wrought. We haven't been that successful since. And only a part of that part of the movie concerned the decision about the Emperor's fate.

Emperor concerns those fateful first days of the occupation when MacArthur made the decision not to try the Emperor or members of the royal family as war criminals. Doing the investigation on MacArthur's behalf was General Bonner Fellers who was an army intelligence officer with a background in Japanese language and culture. Matthew Fox is General Fellers and he's got another mission for himself, to find an exchange student from Japan from his youth and whom he knew up to the declaration of war between the USA and Japan.

Tommy Lee Jones plays MacArthur and while he doesn't have that majestic cultured voice that MacArthur had, he still creates a good impression of the imperious general who had a dislike of civil authority. In fact traces of the behavior that got him sacked by Harry Truman during the Korean War are shown. In this case though MacArthur with help of Fellers and his own knowledge of the Asian scene had the right instincts.

The Emperor of Japan centuries ago was a true ruler and over the centuries evolved into a constitutional monarch. But not the same as that Windsor family that reigns in the United Kingdom. The Japanese Shinto religion conferred divine status, the original emperor one Jimmu Tenno is supposed to be descended from the sun god. Japan's wars and foreign policy were done in his name, still are to some extent. A greater decision from Hirohito's part came when he said that he and his family were not divine.

Not covered in this film was the fact that Hirohito had some brothers, at least one of them would have been a more than willing tool of the army and navy chiefs who conducted Japan's war. He faced until the surrender the distinct possibility of being overthrown himself by one of his siblings.

Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones and the Japanese cast are perfectly cast in their roles and I recommend this film as good entertainment and for those with an interest in the Far East.
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Historical, Not Historic
Thaneevuth Jankrajang4 April 2015
I had to view "Emperor" twice before rendering a judgment. The first time went by. Not so much in any way, but something lingered. In the meantime, I visited Japan and read the Pulitzer prize-winning book by Herbert Bix: Hirohito and The Making of Modern Japan. The second viewing was thus clearly different. This film is much like a chapter torn out of the entire book. No wonder some viewers find the film "dry", "textbook-like", or with some other unsatisfactory notes. I believe I can tell why. While the book lays an excellent ground on why we should care about this man-god called and believed by most Japanese as "Emperor, Son of The Sun", if we want to understand this part of human history, the film chooses to disregard the background and assume that the viewers are already interested. This well-made film fails at making us care enough, except the ones already do. I am one of the ones who do care. The film delicately tells a story of a great nation forced on its knees. A pain of a 2,000-year-old nation being dominated by a very young superpower with no real culture of its own. A tough choice between sacrificing oneself or the Emperor they claim to be so devoted to with their lives. However, the heart of this film is also quite well-portrayed. It is that a sheer power is always submissive to a great culture. The American leadership chose not to destroy Japan not only because it was strategically wrong, but also because the culture of Japan was and is one of the triumphs of all mankind. Destroying such a human creation is to destroy a portion of oneself. Emperors have power not only to destroy but also to protect, that is.
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Very Interesting Film!
g-bodyl14 June 2014
From a historical perspective, Emperor is a very fascinating film. When it comes to the War in the Pacific, we seldom hear anything about Emperor Hirohito and the matter of whether he will be tried or not. From a movie standpoint, this also happens to be a good film. It's emotional, has a great script, and incredible acting. I was a little surprised with the romantic subplot, since I was not expecting that but I enjoyed it.

Peter Webber's film takes place right the Japanese surrender in World War Two. General Douglas MacArthur has a tough choice here. Does he exonerate or incriminate Emperor Hirohito knowing full well if he does try Hirohito, they may be a bloody riot on his hands.

In my opinion, I found the acting to be excellent. Tommy Lee Jones was fantastic as MacArthur and I believe he captured the essence of MacArthur. Matthew Fox as General Bonner Fellers also does a good job as he puts together a report stating his beliefs about Hirohito.

Overall, Emperor is a great film, especially from a historical perspective. Obviously being a Hollywood film, not everything is entirely accurate. But they do a good job in getting the story across. This is a story about a decision that could change lives and even cultures. A powerful film indeed. I rate this film 9/10.
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A Thoughtful Look at Justice vs. Political Pragmatism in Post-war Japan
don250722 May 2014
As a history buff I enjoyed this film. It's a thoughtful and (for the most part) balanced view of the dilemma facing MacArthur and the American occupation of what to do about Emperor Hirohito at the end of the Pacific war. The American public and the Justice Department want the emperor tried as a war criminal and most likely hanged, while MacArthur knows he needs the emperor and his mystical appeal to the Japanese as a veritable god to effect the enormous political and social changes that he and the occupation authorities are planning for post-war Japan. In addition, the United States is beginning to see Japan as a potential ally in east Asia as relations with the Soviet Union deteriorate and the Chinese civil war continues. But MacArthur has his eye on the Presidency in 1948 and so he instructs his associate Brig. General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) to evaluate in only 10 days whether Hirohito should be arrested and tried as a war criminal, thus displacing some of the anger of the American electorate onto Fellers if Hirohito is not tried. The 10-day evaluation period comprises a search for Hirohito's associates to solicit exonerating information about the emperor's wartime culpability and constitutes the focus of the film.

Tommy Lee Jones plays Gen. MacArthur and he conveys the necessary swagger and command presence (see "The Fugitive") that the imperious general wore like a second skin. He doesn't have MacArthur's famous speech diction, and in this regard Gregory Peck made a better MacArthur. Matthew Fox makes a very conscientious Gen. Fellers, and the Japanese actors, who are obscure to us but famous in Japan, do a marvelous job of portraying dignified, protective, demure (dare I say it: inscrutable) imperial officials who cannot explicitly exonerate the emperor but neither can they point to incriminating evidence. The emperor's role in 1930s-1940s militaristic Japan was indeed inscrutable; he did more than simply rubber-stamp the militarists' aggressive plans but his responsibility as head of state in such a government and culture was hard to evaluate, and the Japanese officials Fellers interrogated said as much. It is, however, interesting to note that more recent histories of Hirohito's role in wartime Japan have suggested his culpability was greater than earlier thought. In the film Gen. Fellers uses Hirohito's role in overcoming Japan's August 1945 Cabinet deadlock by directly speaking to the Japanese people to "endure the unendurable" to justify maintaining the emperor's role in post-war Japan, and MacArthur agrees which allows him to meet with the emperor, have that famous photo taken with just the two of them, and then proceed to unify the Japanese under the emperor's continuing presence to effect his reforms and to make Japan a U.S. ally in the post-war world.

It is interesting to note that some of the same political (cold-war) issues were confronted in Stanley Kramer's "Judgment at Nuremberg"; some of the U.S. occupation officials in Germany were advising the prosecutors to be lenient with some of the Nazi judges on trial because Germany was going to be needed as an ally against the Soviets. Was "justice" conferred on Hirohito? Probably not, according to some recent post-war histories, but as "Emperor" honestly depicts, both the senior Japanese leaders and the American occupation officials, most of all MacArthur, realized that Japan could not be rebuilt and reformed, at least not as quickly or as easily, without the emperor's presence as a unifying symbol, albeit a de-divinized one, in post-war Japan.
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Impressive Historical Drama
Bob_the_Hobo17 May 2013
Following the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, American forces lead by General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) and General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) are tasked with finding out if the Emperor of Japan is guilty of war crimes. Fellers particularly knows the culture of Japan, having fallen in love with a Japanese woman in college. While he tries to speak with the Emperor, surely an impossible task, he searches for the woman he loves.

"Emperor" is an impressive historical drama and unexpectedly poignant love story. General Fellers' story is one of the least known but most compelling stories of World War Two, and while the film takes several steps away from the truth, it brings to light both what the American military power and the Japanese culture had to go through at the end of one of the most internationally volatile periods in history.

Matthew Fox gives the best performance of his film career as Fellers. He conveys the sadness of a man who is searching for what may as well be a forbidden love and also faces the difficult task of speaking with the Emperor of Japan, who is viewed as a God by his people. Jones doesn't look anything like Douglas MacArthur but shows the confidence and power of a man in charge of the largest military force in the world. It wouldn't have been a surprise if Jones had been nominated for an Oscar for this film instead of Lincoln last year.

The biggest question once the credits roll is this: who is the "Emperor" to which the title alludes to? Is it the Emperor of Japan, or MacArthur himself? Power may corrupt, but can it be beneficial? Historical dramas should make the viewer as such questions.
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Armand2 August 2013
not impressive, not great or extraordinary. in few parts didactic, maybe fake - in essence it is an American exercise for understand and present an event. melodramatic, in other parts. but certainly, beautiful. only beautiful. a precise and honest puzzle of nuances. source of its beauty - the measure. the fragile line between love story and war story, the vision of conquer and the occupied people about recent past. the beauty of performance, as silk fly. it is not exactly a film about war but about basis of peace. a film about justice and the past as fundamental ingredient of future. and it can be a surprise. a good script, a smart director and two actors who can do more than silhouette of role. grace of performance - this is the best definition for this movie. so, it is not a bad idea to see it. for each viewer it can be a surprise.
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An intimate and criminally underrated war drama.
Jonathon Natsis21 May 2014
Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones play polarising American WW2 army generals to a tee in Emperor, the compellingly true story of the aftermath of the war in Japan, and the concerted US effort to compile enough evidence to convict Japanese Emperor Hirohito of war crimes. Trained on a seldom-acknowledged aspect of mankind's greatest battle, Emperor infuses a grand story with intimate relationships, making for a superb addition to the voluminous library of war on film.

While Tommy Lee Jones relishes in playing every Tommy Lee Jones character ever (stealing all the best lines in the process) as the hard-nosed but cunning General MacArthur, Fox delivers a more grounded and arresting performance as Bonner Fellers, a man torn between his moral obligations and his duty to the army, and to an American public crying out for blood.

Director Peter Webber infuses a romantic subplot with Fellers' Japanese girlfriend Aya (Eriko Hatsune) neatly, filling a role but never interjecting into a story that, quite frankly, is underscored by the power of men post-war. When MacArthur finally comes face-to-face with the Emperor after an excruciating build-up, the scene's emotional force and intense interplay perfectly resonate the best attributes of this vastly underrated drama.

*There's nothing I love more than a bit of feedback, good or bad. So drop me a line on jnatsis@iprimus.com.au and let me know what you thought of my review. If you're looking for a writer for your movie website or other publication, I'd also love to hear from you.*
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This is a film that more people should see
rogerdarlington18 May 2014
This film tells a fascinating story in fine style, but it is difficult to see how anyone thought it was big screen material. Its box office takings were predictably low and it was in theatres so briefly that I had to catch it on DVD which was certainly a worthwhile endeavour.

In 1945, General Douglas MacArthur was made Supreme Commander in American- occupied Japan and one of his first and most momentous decisions was whether or not to execute Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal. For most Americans, there was no debate: Hirohito was the man who endorsed the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. But, whether or not he backed the war, a case could be made that he was crucially instrumental in bringing about the peace by ordering the Japanese to surrender. Furthermore the hanging of the emperor - still revered by most Japanese as a deity - could well lead to an explosion of violence that would make the occupation by the Americans and the revival of the shattered nation immensely more difficult.

MacArthur commissioned Brigadier General Bonner Fellers to make a study of the emperor's complicity and make a recommendation on execution. Fellers was someone who knew the Japanese well and had considerable respect for their ancient culture. Indeed, before the war, he had fallen in love with a Japanese woman studying in the United States and, even after the war, was anxious to see her again.

This amazing story is told respectfully by British director Peter Webber and writers Brazilian Vera Blasi and American David Klass, drawing on Shiro Okamoto's book "His Majesty's Salvation", in a film that even-handedly represents Japanese perspectives of the time. The acting is first-rate with Matthew Fox (best-known for the TV series "Lost") giving a sensitive performance as Fellers and Tommy Lee Jones perfectly cast as the swaggering MacArthur. Many excellent Japanese actors contribute, notably the lovely Eriko Hatsune as Fellers' girlfriend. Shot on locations in both New Zealand and Japan, high production values make this an admirable viewing experience.

The movie lacks the fast-paced action that many expect from a visit to the cinema and arguably it is overly sympathetic to the Japanese position and somewhat saccharine in its treatment of the romance, but it is a real pleasure to see a work that tells a little- known story of such consequence so well.
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Emperor amazing film. Staring Tommy Lee Jones
endersgame197221 February 2014
I was very moved by this film as a History Buff I found the Insight in to Japanese culture to be very Insightful and Enlightening.You don,t find much in the way of film in regards to World War 2 Japan and the culture Surrounding His Majesty. The choice to have Tommy Lee Jones play General MC Arthur the Supreme Commander of all Ali ed Forces was the right one In my Books.I saw him Play Thaddeus Stevens in Daniel Day Lewis,s Lincoln and many other films he is a very capable Actor.

I gave this film 10 out of a possible 10 stars. I found the look in the inner workings of the Empire truly Educational. Though I would not recommend this film for any one under 13 due to the dark references and some Violent seen,s. also any one under 13 will not get a lot of the Historical Data included in this movie it is very involved.

Def worth a watch for any one who is in to History like me
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Well worth a watch, but its still fiction
Gary Kramer4 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Great acting from most of the cast, and well filmed. The sets of bombed Tokyo a shocking in their desolation and you really get a feel for "surviving".

Despite the fact that the film is based on actual events, this is not a docudrama. Many liberties are taken with the facts so don't watch this film looking for education. It's a real shame that the script could not mirror the actual events better. This was a turbulent time, and important decision were still being made. The true story would probably have been every bit as good as what we saw, perhaps even better if it was told with care.

Also, here are parts of the Japanese dialogue that just don't ring true

The fictitious love interest of General Bonner Fellows, while somewhat intriguing, was a) not true, and b) very distracting to the main story. It's mystifying to me why this was inserted in the film except to show a one-star general being derelict in his duty. If it was to highlight the differences in culture, then it failed miserably as only hints were given.
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It is a correct romantic - historical drama for anyone interested in history and especially in WW2
psagray25 October 2014
It is an interesting historical document with excellent photography begins as a thriller, it is like a romantic movie and soon turns to the historical document. The romantic part but lost interest and brings a dimension to the story, hinders the main storyline, it seems an unnecessary addition that does not interest or his principal. Maybe without that part set had just being too dense, too "male" and had far from a wider audience, it does not matter too much, each director has the right to choose the elements that best thought to work in the film and not always they are liked by all viewers.

The Boot "Emperor" is just right and the resolution is perfect. As a historical film works as a perfectly oiled clock (thanks largely to Tommy Lee Jones and the Japanese side) as thriller starts well, engaging the audience and prepares for the end. There is a lot of intensity but it works.

As for the film technical aspects, this mount has a well-conducted, managed a locker and a photograph of Japan swept halfway between the old productions and digital advances of today.

"Emperor" is a correct romantic / historical drama different from what we're used to seeing, for anyone interested in history and especially in WW2 and its aftermath is forced to see it.
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Inexcusable Failure
samkan15 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
What went wrong with this film? Budget was generous. Tommy Lee Jones. Interesting topic. EMPEROR's glaring fault is a love subplot so totally divorced from the rest of the storyline that the cuts to romance are groan inducing. The love interests have zero chemistry and generate about as much passion as kidney dialysis. The lead male apparently matriculated in his mid- thirties then grew younger and became an Army general. All of which MIGHT have been overlooked if the pursuit of the Emperor and Japanese culprits contained some intrigue, suspense or surprise. Nope. Basic Wikipedia page with a few reenactments tossed in. With nothing but skill and talent in basic film making, dialog, characterization, etc., this could have been a fine movie. Instead it's a paint-by-numbers project.
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Talk about the Emperor
Quietb-131 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Should the Emperor be convicted and executed for war crimes? That is the question.

Let's talk about it, and they do. They walk and talk, sit and talk, stand in the elevator and talk. But only for ten days. Tommy Lee Jones gets top billing but limited minutes of screen time.

The movie is dialogue driven. Scenes are redundant. To often time is spent on pictures on the bulletin board. Flashbacks of the love story don't move the story along and become distracting. He looks too old for her always. The movie feels longer then it's running time.

No need to see it on the big screen, no need to see it.
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Average at best
gw3331 October 2013
Billed as a movie about General Douglas MacArthur and WWII, it's not. It's about a lower level general investigating if the emperor is a war criminal, but most of his time is spent looking for his Japanese girlfriend. They make a list of suspects and try to talk to them, but most of them aren't talking. So he goes around and looks and sobs and sobs some more. As far as scenery, many of the buildings are the same, even when they're supposed to be in different towns, so they didn't spend too much on area views.

It's more of a love story, but it fails at that, too. If you can see it for free, you'll get your money's worth.
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Could have been so much better. 3/10
leonblackwood22 March 2014
Review: Although this movie did cover a very important period of American history, I did find it slightly boring and the investigation on who gave the order for Pearl Harbour seemed to go round and round in circles. Matthew Fox, who plays the lead, didn't really have a great script to work with so I can't blame his performance on his ability to act. I honestly did think that Tommy Lee Jones was going to play a bigger part in the film, but he is more of a cameo, even though his part is very important to the movie. It doesn't really pick up until the end when Tommy Lee Jones gets involved, and then it ends abruptly. In all, the director could have done much better with such a big concept. Average!

Round-Up: The attention to detail throughout the movie wasn't bad and I'm glad that the director showed the situation from both points of view. Tommy Lee Jones does stand out from the rest and his performance and professionalism was noticed, but Matthew Fox just seemed one toned and pretty stiff. You do have to remember throughout the movie is that it is based on true events so it's more based on fact than entertainment. Some of the facts were interesting but the love story seemed to be added for the audience so they wouldn't get bored of the whole investigation. Personally I found it a bit weird that a movie with these actors didn't get a big distribution, but after watching the film I couldn't imagine watching it the cinema.

Budget: N/A Worldwide Gross: $4million

I recommend this movie to people who are into there war movies about a guy trying to find out if an emperor should get charged for starting Pearl Harbour. 3/10
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Wrong message for today
Nozz5 October 2013
Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post remarks, in another connection, that "US officials – and journalists – like to romanticize the world's most psychopathic, evil men. Doing so helps them to justify and defend their desire to appease, rather than confront, let alone defeat, them." The attitude she describes may explain why this particular historical episode gets the big-screen treatment while Americans are wondering how mercifully to treat their various foreign enemies. EMPEROR begins with the bombing of Hiroshima and goes on to feature a speech (never rebutted) about the moral equivalence of Japanese imperialism and Western imperialism. It's hard to interpret the movie's message except as "judge not, lest ye be judged"-- a notion perhaps applicable when your enemy's thoroughly defeated, like Japan after the atom bomb, but can be dangerous when applied prematurely. Aside from all that, we have a shallow love story in which we never understand why we're supposed to take the relationship of two people from entirely different cultures so seriously; what makes them a couple is never explained although we can see they're both good-looking. And meanwhile we have army business conducted on a surprisingly informal basis. I wasn't there, but I doubt that generals, and Macarthur in particular, were so casual with their subordinate officers all the time. I guess it all rolls into a consistent message, though: that we're all the same, regardless of rank and regardless of which side we're on, so there's no point holding grudges. If it's a message for today, when the West is threatened by some violent and serious-minded enemies, I think it may be the wrong message.
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