Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox star in this superior wartime drama about the American investigation into Emperor Hirohito’s role in Pearl Harbour, instigated to establish if he should be tried as a war criminal.
Jones plays General MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, who is under pressure from Washington to find Hirohito culpable in order to give the US people the sacrifice they seek.
But MacArthur, knowing that placing the Emperor on trial would risk the lives of his forces and hold back the reconstruction of Japan, tasks Brigadier General Bonner Fellers (Fox) with clearing him.
The film is based on Shiro Okamoto’s book His Majesty’s Salvation and lacks, thanks to the presence of British Director Peter Webber and the US/Japanese co-production nature of it, the usual American gung-ho approach to the War.
While it’s the military and politics plot that the film is sold on, it’s exploration of our responsibility for the decisions we make and their consequences is given added emotional potency through a subplot about Fellers’ attempts to find his pre-war Japanese lover.
Emperor is a powerful and rewarding drama which delivers a mature, reflective look at the subject matter and avoids ever asking the audience to pick a side.
Not to be missed.
Released across the UK on October 4th.