Sunday, October 5, 2014


During World War II, the Japanese committed many atrocities, for which many of its leaders were tried for war crimes and executed by the United States occupation after the war.  It is most likely that Emperor Hirohito bore some of the responsibility for these atrocities, although his exact role remains controversial.  The American occupying forces portrayed him as a powerless figurehead who had no real control over the military.  This is because General MacArthur felt that executing the Emperor would cause widespread rebellion in Japan, and that he needed the Emperor to help restore order.  General Bonner Fellers conducted the investigation into whether the Emperor should be prosecuted for war crimes, although it seems that part of his role was to coordinate testimony by witnesses to exonerate the Emperor.  If there was a cover-up, this film doesn't go there.

The movie posters are misleading because they focus on Tommy Lee Jones playing MacArthur and mostly ignore Matthew Fox of LOST fame playing General Fellers.  This is really a movie about General Fellers and his investigation of the Emperor.  The movie gets bogged down a little with a subplot about Feller's former relationship with his Japanese girlfriend, but this seems like a necessary part of the story.

The movie makes for a very interesting drama about an important moment in American-Japanese history and it provides insights into Japanese culture.  Oddly enough, it was filmed in New Zealand, although the landscape easily passes for Japan.

Rating: * * *

Emperor has a 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but I feel that it is underappreciated.  Richard Roper gives the movie a "B".  If I were using that rating system, I would give it a "B+".

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