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Vi som inte fruktar döden: skildringen av samurajklassens hederskodex under Meijikejsarens styre i Den siste samurajen
Kristianstad University, School of Teacher Education.
2011 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay deals with the political upheavals which occurred in Japan with the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and its impact on the Samurai Class. This transitional period in Japanese history is portrayed in the film The Last Samurai from 2003, and it's the comparison between this Hollywood production and the current research on the subject on which this essay focuses. Two key figures who are portrayed in the film are Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), an American soldier from the Indian Wars of the 1860/70s who travels to Japan to quell the Samurai rebellion but ends up in captivity; only to learn their codex of honor and way of life and eventually become a Samurai himself. The other character calls himself Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe) and becomes the representative of the Samurai's struggle for their existence. Their friendship and cultural exchanges will remain a cornerstone throughout the film. Katsumoto has his historical counterpart in Saigō Takamori – also known as The Last Samurai during the times of the Meiji Restoration and its aftermath. Closely intertwined with the Samurai come ideals in which the warrior must follow specific precepts and behavior patterns both on the battlefield and in civilian life. Bushidō (“the way of the warrior”) and the ritual suicide that is seppuku (“stomach-cutting”) therefore play a significant role in the film and become a symbol of the clash between the old values of the Samurai and the inevitable process of modernization according to Western standards. The film explores both the theoretical and practical dimension of bushidō and is a tribute to the Samurai; their ideals, living and learning philosophy and to their codex of honor. It also depicts the unexpected and forbidden friendship between a Samurai and a soldier with their separate Western and Eastern values – which ultimately results in their common defeat before the new age in Japan.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 48 p.
Keyword [en]
Meiji Restoration, 1868, soldier, Samurai, honor, rebellion, bushidō, seppuku, warrior, modernization, Hollywood
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-8539OAI: diva2:441312
Subject / course
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2011-09-26 Created: 2011-09-15 Last updated: 2011-09-26Bibliographically approved

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