Friday, August 18, 2006

Men Of Honour

I saw the movie The Last Samurai today. And all I can say is, it is a privilege to even have seen the ways of the Samurai. Even though the story may be one of a bygone era, it really taught me the ways to live life such that one may not regret having lived such a life.


Silent Samurai: Algren-San.
[he rushes in front of Algren to protect him from being shot, and is consequently shot himself]
Algren: Bob....


Katsumoto: You believe a man can change his destiny?
Algren: I think a man does what he can, until his destiny is revealed.

Katsumoto: The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.

[With his dying breath, he sees blossoms in bloom]
Katsumoto: Perfect... They are all... perfect...


[first lines]
Simon Graham: [narrating] They say Japan was made by a sword. They say the old gods dipped a coral blade into the ocean, and when they pulled it out four perfect drops fell back into the sea, and those drops became the islands of Japan. I say, Japan was made by a handful of brave men. Warriors, willing to give their lives for what seems to have become a forgotten word: honor.

[last lines]
Simon Graham: [narrating] And so the days of the Samurai had ended. Nations, like men, it is sometimes said, have their own destiny. As for the American Captain, no one knows what became of him. Some say that he died of his wounds. Others, that he returned to his own country. But I like to think he may have at last found some small measure of peace, that we all seek, and few of us ever find.


(My Favourite)
Algren: [narrating] They are an intriguing people. From the moment they wake they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seem such discipline. I am surprised to learn that the word Samurai means, 'to serve', and that Katsumoto believes his rebellion to be in the service of the Emperor.

Algren: [narrating] Winter, 1877. What does it mean to be Samurai? To devote yourself utterly to a set of moral principles. To seek a stillness of your mind. And to master the way of the sword.

Algren: [narrating] Spring, 1877. This marks the longest I've stayed in one place since I left the farm at 17. There is so much here I will never understand. I've never been a church going man, and what I've seen on the field of battle has led me to question God's purpose. But there is indeed something spiritual in this place. And though it may forever be obscure to me, I cannot but be aware of its power. I do know that it is here that I've known my first untroubled sleep in many years.


Higen: Will you fight the white men, too?
Algren: If they come here, yes.
Higen: Why?
Algren: Because they come to destroy what I have come to love.


Algren(to Emperor Meiji): This is Katsumoto's sword. He would have wanted you to have it. He hoped with his dying breath that you would remember his ancestors who held it, and what they died for. May the strength of the Samurai always be with you.

Emperor Meiji: Tell me how he died.
Algren: I will tell you how he lived.

Emperor Meiji: My ancestors have ruled Japan for 2,000 years. And for all that time we have slept. During my sleep I have dreamed. I dreamed of a unified Japan. Of a country strong and independent and modern... And now we are awake. We have railroads and cannon and Western clothing. But we cannot forget who we are. Or where we come from.

Katsumoto, Nathan Algren, Ujio, Nobutada, Bob, Higen... Godspeed...


Balaji said...

i have seen this movie before and enjoyed it a lot. I have definitely not analysed like you have done...but enjoyed your quotes.

Maverick said...

hey balaji,

those quotes were taken by me from a page on the net i came across yaar... so cant claim credit for those... i took the ones that i had noticed in the movie and also some that appealed to me...

and yes... its a nice movie and one does take something from it...

Rishi said...

While I enjoyed the movie, it is also the case that The Last Samurai is romanticised on so many levels. The portrayal of Katsumoto as the beloved patriarch and leader of his community tends to obscure the oppressive feudalism and rigidity of Japanese society. The portrayal of a pastoral ideal society, in which everyone knows his or her place, being swamped by the corrupt forces of modern industrial society...well, let us just say that I am on the side of the despised middle classes and democracy. The Meiji Restoration, for all the horrors that were unleashed in WW II, also laid the foundation for a brilliant technical and scientific revolution that, post-1945, has given the world so much. The only truly accurate part of that movie was the final battle. Have you read the Social History of the machine gun? It is a fascinating book that examines so many of the issues depicted in the movie.
Which doesn't stop the movie from being great fun, of course. :)