Movie Talk -- The Last Samurai (2003)
The Last Samurai is the story of Captain Nathan Aldridge (played by Tom Cruise), a winner of the Medal of Honor in the war against the American Indians. He is guilt-stricken and haunted by the memories of battle. He has nightmares and finds his solace in alcohol. He takes work in Japan, leading a newly-formed regiment to defend against a group of samurai, led by a warrior named Katsumoto Moritsu.
The year is 1876.
On the ship, crossing the Pacific from San Francisco, Aldridge muses in voice-over:
There is some comfort in the emptiness of the sea. No past. No future. And then at once I am confronted by the hard truth of present circumstances. I have been hired to suppress the rebellion of yet another tribal leader. Apparently this is the only job for which I'm suited. I am beset by the ironies of my life.
The regiment is sent prematurely to face the samurai. After they are routed, Aldridge is taken captive to the village of Katsumoto's brother, in the mountains. It is here that the best part of the movie, in my opinion, takes place.
His revivification begins with conversations with Katsumoto, who wants to
practice my English
with Aldridge, becuz they
are both students of war.
He also starts training in the Way of the Japanese Sword. And he learns some of the Japanese language.
The beauty of this enlightening moment in the movie is hard to explain. Aldridge says, again in voice-over:
There is indeed something spiritual in this place. And though it may forever be obscure to me, I cannot help but to be aware of its power.
On the one hand, The Last Samurai is an action film. But I come back to it again and again, for its meditative qualities. I recommend you to check it out.