In the movie, The Last Samurai, there are a variety of characters, visualizations, inferences, and conclusions that can be made as to the message that is trying to be sent. To reinforce the goal of this paper, we will not focus on the implied thesis, or the message within the movie. We will focus on the message portrayed when it comes to characters, schemes, and hidden agendas.
According to the Representation Test, The Last Samurai scored a whopping 6… This results in the movie receiving the wonderful grade of a C. Buzz kill. But why such a low number? Why did such a riveting movie score so low? Lucky for you, I am going to explain this whole scenario. Lets begin with the role of women in this movie.
Surprisingly, there is ONE main woman character in this film. Shocker. I can understand that men are better than women, that inevitable (totally kidding by the way). Her name is Taka. She is the widow of the man that Tom Cruise, Nathan Algren, kills in the beginning of the movie. Unfortunately for her, she is put in charge of nursing Cruise back to health… Sucks to suck. She is a woman of Japanese descent but she hardly has any say in any decision in the movie. She is constantly being told what to do and reluctantly does what she is told. I know what you are thinking, and no, she is not told to go to the kitchen to make a sandwich. Also, this movie does not pass the Bechdel Test. Why? Well, like I said, there is only one woman in this movie and she doesn’t have any one else to talk to except her superiors which are men. So, this movie definitely fails in its portrayal of women. Granite, she does play a major role in nursing Cruise back to health. Like it says in the test on only being a part for the male eye, this is not entirely true. She is attractive, but she definitely as a role other than just the stereotypical eye candy. Lets talk about the dudes.
There are white men and Japanese men in this movie. Check. But this movie definitely does not avoid the use of violence and the glorification of said violence. At all. The samurai are proud of who they are and are extremely proud of their rage issues. Needless to say, this does not pass this part of the test. But, there are non-stereotypical roles of men in this movie. Cruise’s male caregiver, whom he names Bob because he doesn’t speak, is one who looks after Cruise, watching his every move and making sure he is always protected… (and that he doesn’t attempt to kill Katsumoto, the samurai leader).
Moving on to the lesbian/gay portion of the test. There is no glimpse or hint of these scenarios, so I guess we can just move on to the next subject, which is the disabilities portion of the test.
I was not quite sure if Cruise’s alcohol addiction in the movie was considered a disability, so I left that portion unchecked. I consider that an addiction. But if we want to liven up the playing field, yes, Cruise did have an alcohol addiction in the first part of this movie. But that brings us back to the woman, Taka, who nurses him back to health. Cruise constantly wants sake, but Taka constantly refuses. Good girl. Don’t feed that fire. This then helps Cruise to overcome his addiction and become a new man. I’m going to give Taka bonus points for being wise and hard headed enough to say no to Tom Cruise. So in the end, it all works out!
This film is directed by a Japanese man, which gives it a point on the test and is directed by a man of color… (If Japanese men are considered a different color; I wasn’t quite sure about that, but decided to role with it). So yes, this movie is different in its own way because white males direct most movies, for the most part.
All in all, this movie was great in my eyes, but definitely surprised me from this test’s point of view. It definitely opened my eyes to what movies mostly display in roles of men, women, plots, body types, and what the audience typically wants to see. Is there a movie that checks all of the boxes? Hmm… This was definitely an eye opening experience to the hidden agenda of movies and how they secretly display meaning in their movies.