Emperor

EMPEROR FOCUSES ON CIVILIAN CLOTHES
During World War II, the American media depicted the leader of Japanese aggression as Emperor Hirohito, whom Japanese grew up revering as the descendent of the sun god. Lacking access to machinations in Tokyo, the media did not identify the prime ministers or the military faction as sole culprits. After Japan’s surrender in 1945, there was understandably a call for a Nuremberg Trial in which the emperor would be the top defendant. The commander of American forces in the Pacific, Douglas MacArthur, is given authority by President Truman to organize the American occupation of Japan, including the Tokyo Trials. What ensues in Emperor is a prequel to the film The Sun, a Russian film nominated by the Political Film Society as best film exposé of 2005, which focused on conversations between the Emperor and MacArthur, who eventually persuaded the former to give up any claim to divinity. The purpose of Emperor is to demonstrate what was required to arrange that meeting. Thanks to President Truman, MacArthur (played by Tommy Lee Jones) has the authority either to indict or not induct Hirohito. To find evidence that Hirohito (played by Takatarô Kataoka) gave the order to attack Pearl Harbor, MacArthur lies on the advice of General Bonner Fellers (played by Matthew Fox), who interviews several high-ranking Japanese officials, but they provide no hard evidence to back up the view that the militarists had seized power, leaving the Emperor as a figurehead. But Emperor, directed by Peter Webber, has perhaps a more important agenda that the main plot—to gain filmviewer respect for Japanese culture. To do so, the script invents a Japanese girlfriend, Aya Shimada (played by Eriko Hatsune), whom Fellers met at college and wants to meet again in wartorn Japan. Japanese protocol is also identified as very different from the swaggering bluntness accepted as normal in America. What may particularly surprise Americans is the weakness of the reason for the American economic embargo of Japan, which provided a pretext for militarists in Japan to attack Pearl Harbor attack. Emperor provides facts, both cultural and historical, and therefore has been nominated by the Political Film Society as best film exposé of 2013. MH