What IMDB said:

An American military advisor embraces the Samurai culture he was hired to destroy after he is captured in battle.

Why Silvery Dude thought I should watch this:

If Tom Cruise is a guilty secret then this is a treat for you.  In this film he ‘does proper acting’ and combined with beautiful, beautiful scenery and epic cinematography, this film is a heart-wrenching tale of struggle, honour and friendship.

A film that stays with you.

My thoughts on seeing the film:

Well. I adored this film.

I don’t believe in guilty secrets. If you like something you should step up and say so.

The Cruise thing is something I’ve addressed elsewhere, most recently here, so if you want to know what I think about him as an actor then that is where you have to go, but I will say that I think he has the capacity to be a great actor, though his choice of films occasionally leaves something to be desired (I have not yet been able to bring myself to watch Knight and Day, for example). And as far as I’m concerned long-haired Tom Cruise always beats short-haired Tom Cruise, though he did look pretty cool at this year’s Oscars.

No other word for it. The Last Samurai looks wonderful, the story is epic and sweeping and majestic, there is love and honour and loyalty by the shedload. The Cruiser acts his socks off, drunken and brooding and then occasionally the dazzling grin appears in a flash as he gets to know the children in the village where he is effectively a prisoner, and of course he does the whole taking hard knocks to earn respect while never actually giving in thing which is an absolute given in this sort of film. He may be a drunk, but he’s a noble drunk and of course he regains his self-respect through allying himself with a worthy but apparently futile cause.

For of course, this is a Western that just happens to be set in Japan.

The supporting cast is absolutely excellent. Ken Watanabe strikes the right balance of noble warrior and ruthless fighter, trying to protect his young emperor. The bad guys get their comeuppance appropriately, the ending is suitably satisfying and Timothy Spall is great. But, much as I love Billy Connelly (and I so, so do) he needs to give up on that “Irish” accent.

The one thing I didn’t really expect was to spend the last thirty minutes or so of the film in floods of tears, I was sobbing like an idiot but that just added to the whole experience.

Lovely, lovely stuff.

This is my second film in my Films to Watch before I’m 51 personal challenge.