Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Emperor - A Compelling and Overlooked True Story

The Emperor was a wonderful story, albeit it one that has been largely overlooked.  Focusing on the immediate aftermath of WWII in Japan; the film centers on Brigadier General Bonner Fellers (played by Matthew Fox) who is tasked with determining whether Emperor Hirohito, seen as a god by the citizens of Japan, is guilty of war crimes.  Working under Supreme Allied Commander, General Douglas MacArthur (superbly portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones) Fellers must determine whether there is enough evidence to convict the Emperor and execute him along with the high ranking members of the military, or to exonerate him and let him maintain his throne.  Fellers position we learn is unique in that he has a romantic history with both Japan itself, and the daughter of one of Japans generals whom he met in college before the war.  Part love story, part historical epic, The Emperor is a film that was both inspiring and awe striking.  Scenes of cities decimated by fire bombing and a culture on the verge of collapse really send home the horrors of the Second World War.  Fellers decision is a heavy one.  If he convicts the Emperor as the government and citizens of America want, he risks starting a rebellion and the recommencement of hostilities in Japan.  However, if he forgives the Emperor he feels he is both letting down his country and potentially letting a criminal get away with murder.  As the mystery of both his personal story and that of post-war Japan unfolds, we get a rare glimpse at a compelling true story and one that has been largely left out of the public eye.

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