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Showing 1-10 of 721 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,891 reviews
on September 13, 2016
Good story. The "what happened after" card at the end is not quite historically accurate (Fellers was one of 200-odd Brigadier Generals reduced to Colonel in the draw-down after WWII, and was restored to the rank on his retirement - not quite the vindictive punishment the film seemed to suggest). Still, it's only a movie, and as such is pretty good.
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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.
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on October 29, 2015
Entertaining, well-acted, well-directed film about an important, but little known historical event. The film is not nearly as interesting as the true story on which it is based, the story of a strange relationship between an American army officer and a Japanese woman whom he had met at Earlham College. Hollywood turned in into a love story and threw in some moral equivalency notions to suggest that Japanese imperialism was no different from American imperialism and that Japanese atrocities were no different from America's dropping the atomic bomb. The implication is that it was militarism on both sides that kept them apart. Right. The historical principals were themselves much more ambiguous.
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on April 6, 2015
EMPEROR tells an often forgotten and overlooked piece of World War II history - the fates of Emperor Hirohito and Japanese government officials at the end of the war. EMPEROR starts with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The cities are destroyed by atomic bombs Japan agrees to an unconditional surrender. The country is soon under America occupation. The country is devastated and the Japanese people are starving and broken in spirit. The future of Japan is now in the hands of the Americans.

It becomes the duty of General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) to determine if Emperor Hirohito, a god-like figure to most Japanese, was a willing participant in the planning of the war. MacArthur assigns the task to General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) and gives him 10 days to determine if the Emperor should be tried as a war criminal. Fellers is especially fond of Japan and its culture and is desperate to determine the fate of a Japanese woman he loves. He is assignment tears him apart on a personal level. Fellers is a man in conflict as he tries to find proof that Hirohito was NOT a war criminal. It's clear his agenda is to save Hirohito, thereby saving Japan from an uncertain future.
EMPEROR is a disappointment for a history buff. It could better delve into the minds of Japanese officials and their reasons for starting a war that ruined Japan. A chance to tell a historical story is lost and we have a mediocre film that can't seem to follow the line of either fiction or fact..
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on October 18, 2015
The first truly great film I have seen in many years. The taut, intellectually stimulating story looks at a slice of history of which little is known (or at least, to me). The plot unfolds like a murder mystery, clue leading to clue. The secrets of Japan’s culture play an active part in the mystery. The dialogue is breathtaking in its deceptive simplicity—I felt like I was watching a great play. At the end I gasped inwardly; for a brief moment I knew what it would feel like to avert history from disaster single-handedly. I am very grateful to the people who made this movie!
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on May 15, 2015
Tommy Lee Jones is fun, and the movie is worth watching.
The problem of what to do with the emperor has to be explained through dialog, and great gnashing of teeth, and an attempted comparison of Japanese imperialism with that of Britain and the US. It did leave you with the uncertainty over the role of the Emperor Hirohito in waging war. Was he really in charge, or was he a virtual captive of the "militarists"?
At the end they have an inaccurate graphic that says General Eisenhower demoted General Fellers afterward. This was not the case. During the Civil War and WWI and WWII US officers were promoted quickly up to temporarily higher ranks as the military expanded, and then they reverted back to their regular, lower rank after the war as the military was reduced in size. And so General Fellers went back to a regular rank of colonel. As, for example, General Custer was promoted up to major general during the Civil War, and was reduced back to captain after the war, and eventually died 11 years later at the rank of lieutenant colonel.
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on June 13, 2015
I am a history buff and therefore I found this movie (it is a true story but not all about MacArthur---its more about a member of his staff) to be full of great details. The movie opens with the Enola Gay taking off to drop the first Atom Bomb on Japan. Next it moves to the palace revolt which was driven by those in the Japanese government who still wanted to continue the war even with the prospect that the United States would continue dropping Atomic bombs. That thought brought the Emperor who had the last say to call for the surrender. Tommy Lee Jones plays Gen MacArthur very well as you would expect. The other main character is Gen Bonner Fellers (played by Matthew Fox) who was a career US Army officer who had a love affair in Japan before World War II with a beautiful Japanese lady. Besides tracking down the Japanese responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor and war criminals for prosecution, Fellers privately looks for the girl he loved as a sidebar to the history track. I don't know if that was factual but it adds a bit of romance to the history narrative. As to the destruction of Japan, the movie has some very good CG imposed in which miles and miles of bombed rubble of Tokyo is shown as the backdrop in many scenes. My view is that adds a bit much sympathy to the film for the Japanese people who not only attacked Pearl Harbor killing several thousand US military and Hawaiian civilians, the Japanese were most brutal to every people that they attacked. For example they killed millions of Chinese -- in Nanking alone there were 350,000 people killed by the Japanese army. The movie does not leave the impression that one should feel sorry for the Japanese but does not cover in detail the war crimes which they committed.
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on September 20, 2015
Most historical fiction is imperfect, and this movie is no exception. I am inclined to agree with the brief summary on Wikipedia of its critical reception: a good movie that was marred by a silly love story subplot that did not in any way advance the main thesis. As to its historical accuracy, I am neither a historian nor an expert of the period, but I believe it is safe to say that not every fact of the story should be believed literally. As with all historical fiction, it should serve to make you reassess prior beliefs after some research using more credible sources. Emperor does not pretend to placate Emperor Hirohito's role in the war in China nor in his role in consenting to the attack on Pearl Harbor. On the contrary, it's portrayal of Emperor Hirohito (mostly indirectly) shows him to be an imperfect human in deeply challenging and imperfect circumstances, pressured by militarists and forced to obey codes of honor that are not readily understood by foreigners. While one may disagree with the lectures on the guilt of the European and American colonialists (and I strongly disagreed with basic facts of the lecture), nobody can doubt that all the major parties of the war in the Pacific, including the Americans, British, Chinese, and Japanese, had very dirty hands before, during, and after the war.
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on May 10, 2017
Having lived in Japan I have a fascination for learning the bits and pieces of it's history. This movie fills in a piece I never knew about regarding whether the Americans were going to put Emperor Hirohito on trial for war crimes. For another piece of the puzzle see Tokyo Trial on Netflix
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on March 9, 2015
Excellent film. Fox and Jones do a commendable job of acting complex characters who were responsible for the rebuilding of Japan.

While the romance of Fellers (Fox) in the story was likely not factual since he had a wife and daughter back in the US, it propelled the film to a personal level and took the edge off the harshness of the scenes in Japan after the war. Fellers was the real hero in this situation and Emperor Hirohito, in 1971, actually awarded Fellers with one of Japan's highest honors, the Second Order of the Sacred Treasure. McArthur, as pompous as he was in real life (some may dispute this, but he did have a streak of it which many 5-star generals did and do have), he was able to engineer a fantastic rebuilding of Japan. I am not sure if he was revengeful, but Jones was great in his role as McArthur and pulled off the enigmatic role with aplomb.

While inaccuracies existed, the film needed these to pull the story together and make it much more appealing. Minor mistakes never took one away from the real story line... getting the investigation of the Emperor to produce either guilt or innocence in prosecuting the war. All other stories involved in this excellent film were superfluous.

While McArthur was quite an egoist, this film shows how he was able to do the right thing and actually be commanding and warm enough at the proper time to almost endear himself to the Emperor. We don't know if their relationship continued and grew, but we do know that Japan was rebuilt to become a peaceful country which is today a very strong economic entity. It is not known what would have occurred if McArthur had botched the job or if someone else had been in-charge, but Japan was rebuilt and blossomed in spite of the rubble as a result of the war.

I fully recommend this film as a sleeper and one definitely worth your time. It is quite well produced in almost every aspect and is a peek through the window as to what happened after Japan surrendered.
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