Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Barbarian and the Geisha: 2 Disc Set

The Barbarian and the Geisha: 2 Disc SetI first saw this movie in 1958 just before going to Japan with the US Army. It made quite an impact on me and my expectations of the Japanese. The movie does successfully capture some of the Japanese spirit as I know it. John Wayne, though he has been panned in this role, I think, embodies what may have been an accurate portrayal of the typical well meaning American in a culture he could never understand. Years later, when I happened to be in Shimoda, where the film is set, I found a small Japanese Museum, that commorated the self-sacrifice of the Japanese woman, the lovely Okichi, to her community. It depicts the 'facts' of the movie in a totally differnt light.

This movie really deserves to be put on DVD !!

I teach secondary Culture and Japanese Language to about 160 students. This is one of the best researched and fun to watch stories about 19th century Japan. The Duke is Smooth in his role and the differences of Late Japanese Culture and Early American Culture are well described. My students were engrossed the whole movie, with well thought questions during the film and at the end. Definitely worth your time.

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John's Wayne's depiction of Townsend Harris is typical John Wayne. The greatness of this movie is the authenticty of Japanese and American cultural differences in the 1850's when Commador Perry opened Japan to the West. Japan's fear of invasion from the West stemmed from the 1600 Jesuit Missionaries and Western economic exploitation, most evident in the West's occupation of China. Japan was the first country to refuse the technological invention of the rifle, believing there was no honor in killing except in hand to hand combat. When the cannons on Perry's black ships necessitated opening of Japan's shores, internal opposition to trade with the West errupted. Townsend Harris, by exemplifying such virtues as self-sacrifice, courage and honesty, was successful in negotiating a treaty. The Japanese concept of "On" or obligation to family or lord is the backbone of this movie. Because the good of the nation is placed above the individual the love Okichi and Harris is the reason why this movie deserves a 4 star rating.

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This is a good film. It is very subtle and not a typical John Wayne film. Director John Huston's pace is slow but well thought out. It is a well researched film and is a very good historical piece demonstrating the clash of Eastern and Western cultures.

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I have always wondered how many films were starred by John Wayne. It was quite a surprise for me to see this movie available at Amazon. I recommended it to my brother and we both watched it. Both of us have not seen this movie before and we do not have any idea on the accuracy of the main character Townsend Harris in the movie. All we know is that he was the first Consul General of the United States to Japan. He negotiated the "Harris Treaty" between Japan and the United States which started trade between the two nations. Going back to the movie, it was very well made and to see the duke in that role was very enlightening. With the direction by John Huston, there is the familiarity with the other films John Wayne made under his directorship. I do recommend this movie not as a historical artifact but as one of the movies that personified the quality of the Duke. There will be other reviews about this movie but for those who are fans of the Duke, John Wayne, this is a must have for your collection. It is a wonderful acquisition having it both in blu-ray and DVD. Enjoy the movie.

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