4.0 1
Director: Peter Webber

Cast: Matthew Fox, Tommy Lee Jones, Eriko Hatsune


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With the entire globe still in shock following World War II, U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) and his aide Gen. Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) arrive in a devastated Japan on a sensitive mission to determine whether beloved Japanese emperor Hirohito should be tried and executed for war crimes in


With the entire globe still in shock following World War II, U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) and his aide Gen. Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) arrive in a devastated Japan on a sensitive mission to determine whether beloved Japanese emperor Hirohito should be tried and executed for war crimes in this historical drama from director Peter Webber (Girl With a Pearl Earring, Hannibal Rising). During his investigation, Gen. Fellers experiences an emotional reunion with his long-lost lover Aya (Eriko Hatsune), a former Japanese exchange student who taught him about her nation's culture and customs. When Aya goes missing over the course of his inquiry, he embarks on an arduous quest to find her that not only opens his eyes to the destruction that has befallen the once-proud country, but also helps to inform the monumental decision he must make.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
An old-fashioned mix of star-crossed romance and an investigative procedural set in a war-torn foreign land, Peter Webber's Emperor is interesting for the political intrigue that makes us contemplate not only the aftermath of WWII, but how any country should behave towards a foe they've devastated. Sadly, it ends up well short of compelling because the love story feels so hopelessly stale. The movie stars Matthew Fox as General Bonner Fellers, who, in August of 1945, is given an order by Supreme Commander General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) to investigate exactly how involved Emperor Hirohito was in supporting and planning the Japanese war against the Allied forces. Fellers has ten days to file a report that will either doom Hirohito to banishment and execution or spare his life; the latter choice would allow the people of Japan to keep their largely symbolic leader in place, which might help expedite the healing process of a nation materially and emotionally devastated after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Complicating matters are a pair of obstacles. First, the Japanese high command are fiercely loyal to their historical code of honor, and most have committed suicide or attempted to before they could be interrogated or tried for war crimes. In addition, those who have survived feel no compunction to cooperate with the investigation. Second, Fellers is simultaneously searching for Aya Shimada (Eriko Hatsune), the Japanese woman he fell in love with when they were both college students at the same American university more than a decade earlier. The running time of the film splits these two divergent story lines more or less down the middle. Half of the movie consists of flashbacks of Fellers and Shimada falling in love, being separated, reuniting when Fellers was stationed in Japan before the war, and then being torn apart again by world events, as well as his present-day inquiries into her whereabouts. The problem is that none of this material is elevated beyond our most basic expectations for epic doomed romances; this kind of story has been told thousands of times, and neither Webber, screenwriters Vera Blasi and David Klass, nor Matthew Fox can freshen up these stale tropes. On the other hand, the investigation into the Emperor has a snap to it that's appealing both as historical fiction and as timely drama. There's a straightforward approach to the various interrogations Fellers undertakes in order to discover some proof of the ruler's culpability, and the eventual cultural differences that must be bridged are actually the far more involving obstacle he must face. His various approaches echo the ways in which the modern American military must deal with the Middle East, and at their best these sections of Emperor have the enjoyable buzz of a thick summer beach read, but the momentum always dissipates whenever the hacky love story rears its head. Thankfully, the mystery of Aya resolves itself first, leaving the last 15 minutes of the film to focus on a high-powered political showdown that will have you remembering what's best about Emperor. It is possible to mix romance and war effectively -- Casablanca and The English Patient jump to mind immediately -- but Emperor comes up lacking so strongly in one half of the equation that it never engages our heart.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lions Gate
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Audio Commentary with Director Peter Webber and Producer Yoko Narahashi; "Revenge or Justice: The making of Emperor" featurette; Deleted scenes; Behind-the-scenes photo gallery; Historical photo gallery; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Matthew Fox General Bonner Fellers
Tommy Lee Jones General Douglas MacArthur
Eriko Hatsune Aya Shimada
Masayoshi Haneda Takahashi
Toshiyuki Nishida Uncle Kajima
Colin Moy Major General Richter
Isao Natsuyagi Sekiya
Takataro Kataoko Emperor Hirohito

Technical Credits
Peter Webber Director
Vera Blasi Screenwriter
Tim Coddington Co-producer
Ngila Dickson Costumes/Costume Designer
Stuart Dryburgh Cinematographer
Gary Foster Producer
Alex Heffes Score Composer
Jane Jenkins Casting
Dave Jordan Musical Direction/Supervision
David Klass Screenwriter
Russ Krasnoff Producer
Grant Major Production Designer
Eugene Nomura Producer
Chris Plummer Editor
Satoru Sazuki Associate Producer
Yoko Narahashi Casting,Producer


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Emperor 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago