Top critical review
Romance or historical drama?
on June 2, 2014
This movie suffers from split personalities - it tries to be a romantic movie and a historical drama at the same time. The result is that it is good at neither, in spite of the stellar performance of Tommy Lee Jones (as General MacArther) and Matthew Fox (as General Fellers). In my opinion, the romance between General Fellers and his Japanese girl friend Aya Shimada (Eriko Hatsune), presented as a series of interlacing flash-backs, only serves to bog down the movie. It would have been much better if all the romantic elements were cut out. The historical drama of the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the unconditional surrender of Japan, the subsequent arrests of Japanese war criminals, and General MacArther's all out effort to spare Emperor Hirohito from the gallows for political reasons is a lot more interesting.
The script is based on the book His Majesty's Salvation written by Japanese author Shiro Okamoto. Hence the film generally presents the Japanese view of the war:
(1) Japan attacked Pearl Harbor only in response to the oil embargo imposed on Japan by President Franklin Roosevelt,
(2) Japan attacked and defeated British and Dutch colonial powers in the Pacific and was indeed the liberator of the indigenous peoples from their colonial masters,
(3) the use of atomic weapon on Japanese civilians by the American was just as criminal as the atrocities committed by the Japanese during the war, and
(4) Emperor Hirohito was but a figurehead of imperial Japan and had little or nothing to do with Japanese war aggressions.
Most, if not all, of these claims had been refuted by historians outside of Japan. I will go no further on these issues because Amazon review is not the proper forum to debate these controversial topics. After all, it is just a movie.