Runtime 106 minutes.
have been many films about the Allied reconstruction of West Germany
after World War II. There have been none about the American
reconstruction of Japan after the Japanese surrender in 1945.
film shows the amazing destruction of Tokyo as a result of American
bombing in 1945. Into that distruction comes Gen. Douglas MacArthur
(Tommy Lee Jones) and his staff, including Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox),
a Brigadier General.
MacArthur had a difficult decision to make about what to do with Emperor
Hirohito, who is viewed as a god by most Japanese. If they executed him
it would alienate the Japanese and make rapprochement much more
difficult. If they spared him it would alienate hawks in the American
hierarchy. MacArthur gave Fellers the job of investigating Hirohito's
involvement in, and responsibility for, Japan's wartime actions, like
the attack on Pearl Harbor
Jones gives a good performance as MacArthur, he doesn't appear on screen
that much. The film is really about Fellers and how he followed
MacArthur's orders, difficult though they were, given the political
machinations at play.
story behind the making of the movie is almost as interesting as the
movie itself. Producer Yoko Narahashi grew up listening to stories from
her grandfather, Teizaburo Sekiya (Isao Natsuyagi) who was a
high-ranking official as a member of Emperor Hirohito's Ministry of the
Narahashi's research into Fellers she found that he sometimes wrote
during the war about visiting an unnamed "friend" in Japan. The idea of
adding a love story to the movie occurred to her, but she had no proof.
Even so, she added the fictional character Aya (Eriko Hatsune) for
Feller's Japanese love interest. Her instincts were affirmed when, after
telling her 101-year-old uncle, Sekiya, about the movie, he said, "Make
it a burning love story."
Director Peter Webber has done a fine job in making this into a
believable telling of a previously little-known, but important, part of
history. The movie is extremely well done, except for one incident in
which Fellers gets into a fight in a bar, which seemed a little
unrealistic and over-the-top, and certainly unnecessary. Although Webber
had to fictionalize the story to make it into a movie, his attention to
detail in re-creating Tokyo circa 1945 has resulted in an exceptional
feeling of the ambience of time and place. Unlike other recent films
claiming an historical basis, apart from the fight in the bar there is
nothing in the film that keeps one from believing that this is the way