By Neil Jordan
“EMPEROR”, a joint American/New Zealand production, which debuted at the 2012 Toronto
International Film Festival and is directed by Peter Webber (Hannibal Rising),
The film is a historical drama and stars Matthew Fox (LOST) as General Bonner Fellers and Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur, and is set during the final stages of World War II.
The film opens with old military footage of the A-bomb attack on Hiroshima which, along with the second attack on Nagasaki, eventually lead to the Japanese surrender and the end of World War II.
The movie follows Generals MacArthur and Fellers along with American forces into Japan as they set up the occupations command and attempt to take into custody of the Japanese military and political figures believed to be responsible for bringing Japan into the war as well as the subsequent attacks on Pearl Harbor and other American targets.
Ultimately, the film focuses on MacArthur and Fellers investigation to determine what role the Emperor of Japan himself, played in bringing Japan to war with America and whether or not he could have done anything to stop it.
During this time, Fellers is conducting a secret search for a long lost love, a Japanese woman whom he met in America and returned to Japan shortly before the war began.
As a student of history, I went into to this film with high hopes, as the debate regarding the use of the A-bomb still leads to intense debates even today.
What role the emperor of Japan played in World War 2 is also still a hotly debated issue. Plus, I was quite eager to see how Tommy Lee Jones would be portraying MacArthur.
My opinion is that Jones’s portrayal of MacArthur was the best since Gregory Peck’s portrayal of him several years ago.
The film was well-produced and the acting was top-notch, but while Fellers conducts his investigation into the Emperor’s actions, the film keeps distracting you with Fellers’s search for his long lost love. In the end, the movie is a well-acted history lesson of sort but could have been so much more.
3 stars out of 5