Emperor

2012

Action / Drama / History / War

144
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 31%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 46%
IMDb Rating 6.5 10 11883

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur
Matthew Fox as General Bonner Fellers
Kelson Henderson as Adjutant to MacArthur
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
809.70 MB
1280*720
English
PG-13
23.976 fps
12hr 0 min
P/S 2 / 8
1.64 GB
1920*1080
English
PG-13
23.976 fps
12hr 0 min
P/S 1 / 2

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Ray Lahey 6 / 10

A Tale of Two Emperors

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.

Reviewed by Prismark10 6 / 10

To find the guilty men

Emperor mixes fact with fiction and introduces a clichéd love story subplot which detracts from the film.

The film follows US Army Brigadier General Bonner Frank Fellers (Matthew Fox) who spent time in Japan before the outbreak of the war and ordered by General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) to decide whether Emperor Hirohito regarded as a living god by the Japanese should be tried and hung as a war criminal. In the mean time the US Forces are rounding up the guilty men who were in power in Japan when it allied itself with the Germans.

Mixed with this interesting aspect of the plot is a dull romance angle of trying to find a Japanese student he fell in love with in a messed up post war Japan which has just been nuked.

The machinations and politicking regarding whether the Emperor should be tried is fascinating and helped by a broad, brash performance by Lee Jones.

Matthew Fox though is rather hindered by the script which fails to make his character interesting because of the fictionalized part of the story. The subplot introduces characters in flashbacks that explains why Japan is the country it is to help us understand why it did what it did in the war.

It is a shame that the film dilutes a momentous story to make it rather anodyne.

Reviewed by BoomerDT 7 / 10

Interesting, when it stays focused

When I came upon this on Netflix, I figured it was just an another bio about MacArthur, but being a fan of Tommie Lee Jones I thought I'd give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised that instead of this being focused on the General, it was about the US Army's occupation of Japan, just less than a month after the atomic bombs dropped on the island convinced Hirohito to order his militarists to capitulate before facing complete destruction. MacArthur and the Army have a difficult situation, they are occupying and enforcing martial law with a relatively small force, on the home island of our foe, whose population had been very willing to fight to the death rather than surrender just a few weeks earlier. He also has the responsibility of rounding up and bringing Japan's war criminals to trial and he assigns Brigadier General Bonner Fellers, an expert on Japan, the task of leading the investigation and to gather the information to decide whether Emperor Hirohito should also bear the same responsibility as Tojo and the other militarists who directed Japan's brutal war campaign in SE Asia and the S Pacific. Fellers, played by Mathew Fox, has been advised by MacArthur that he and the American public want to see Hirohito stand trial as a war criminal. But Fellers has pointed out that the peace in Japan is tenuous and that arresting the Emperor, seen as a deity to the population, could be disastrous as it may incur full scale rioting among the population, which would be exactly the opportunity Stalin and the Russians are looking for.

Unfortunately, rather than just be focused on this story, the film has to meander to a totally contrived and BS love story, as Fellers is trying to find his ex-love, a Japanese girl he had met in college in the US and that he continued his relationship with when he was assigned as a military attaché in Japan before the war. There are a number of flashbacks, as Fellers tries to understand their love affair in the context of the differences between western and Japanese culture, something that has been done a number of times in films. I really don't understand the purpose, especially because this story simply wasn't true-Fellers had married an American woman in 1925 who had lived in Japan with him. The story of whether to bring Hirohito to trial is a good one and the scene where he meets with MacArthur is fascinating. Great job by Jones who plays MacArthur as the American Caesar for all it's worth.

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