Description of how the movie "The Last Samurai" portrays the effects of Western Imperialism on Japan

Essay by racerchik88High School, 10th gradeA+, March 2004

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This movie was set in Japan during the late 19th century. An American general who was famous for his many victorious battles against the Native Americans was called to Japan for a special task. The Japanese government was looking to make their civilization as western as possible. They adopted Western dress and began to shy away from the old warrior ways. New technologies such as firearms, cannons, trains, and photography were being instituted into their culture. The only thing holding the government back form being totally westernized was a group of rebels that wanted Japan to stay as it was and not forget its long and treasured history. This American general was brought to Japan in order to train the army to operate like they do in the West. He was hired to train the soldiers how to use firearms and cannons.

In the first battle scene the Japanese army is unprepared even though that had a huge advantage over the samurai as far as technology goes.

The samurai used bow and arrows, swords, spears, and rode on horseback. They wore traditional dress such as large metal armor and ornate headpieces. The Japanese army wore modern outfits and fired their arms in synchronized lines. The samurai reigned victorious. It was considered an honor among the samurai to die in battle while fighting for what they believed in. They practiced a form of suicide known as hari cari if they were disloyal. Even if they were wounded in battle and were soon to die, they'd rather kill themselves then be defeated by the enemy. The American general is captured as a prisoner and brought back to the samurai village. He is taught "bushida" or the ways of the warriors. The village was very primitive and showed no signs...