I have this picky way about me when it comes to movies, there is a list in my mind that has been building since I was young. Of course such greats as South Pacific, Gone with the Wind and Its a Wonderful life from the early part of last century ( ew, that was so icky to say that) and I love those movies. However, in the last 10 years my list has evolved some what.
Now my list consists of movies such as Dances with Wolves, Message in a Bottle, Crouching Tiger- Hidden Dragon, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and what I think is my most fav of all; The Last Samurai. See a pattern here? Heros, each of these movies has a Hero, a person of honor who does what is right. The hero discovers something about themselves that they never knew they had inside them. They are put in situations that demand the best of who they are, and in the end the hero becomes who they were meant to be from the very moment they were born.
Heros are inside each of us, I believe. But some where along the way, that part of us is hidden, or killed off by life. Maybe we let it die, but most often we never knew it was in us, and so never saw it get silenced. And when your young, your invinsible, untouchable and in my case so very ignorant of what I was to become later in life.
Such traits as Character, and how to develop it never crossed into my minds eye. I read , oh did I read; about heros but I think I assumed that heros were born being men and women in possession of honor. I did not have the philosphers mind, to think about these things. I was so ignorant. Now, at my age of 4o some odd years, I have come to see who I am, and how very much I desire to posses honor. I want to be a hero.
In The Last Samruai, Capt. Nathan Algren , a soldier who fought with Custer in the West death throws of freedom, goes to Japan a broken man due to his nightmarish life. And yet, even while he was fighting a battle against the Native American Indians , he showed the strains of who he was to become later. When he gets to Japan, he is a drunkard with a whole life time of anguish inside him, but he does not allow it to come to the surface. He goes about training the Japanese soldiers for the Emperor , teaching them how to suppress the Samurai rebellion that threatens the new way of life in a modern Japan. If you have never seen this movie, I suggest you do so. It is one of the rare movies that takes you inside the story, and if you are very lucky, you grow into a hero along with Katsumoto ( the last Samurai lord) and Nathan Algren.
I have watched on my computer twice in the last few days, and each time I saw things I had missed before. Why I watch over and over is because I am looking for the Heroism in myself. I want to know for certain that inside of me is HONOR. The kind of honor I now believe no longer really exists in our world. Oh, it still lives in small sparks inside so many individuals, but this life , this modern life we have now had the sad misfortune of living in since the early 1900’s, has taken away the ability to see or express it in ourselves. How can one be honorable if one has no idea of the concept of honor?
I am speaking of the honor that Katsumoto has, to his people, to his Emperor and at the end of the film to his friend, Nathan. The honor that eventually comes out in Nathan, when the drink has evaporated out of him, and he sees the possible peace he could have in Bushido.
Bushido, even the word makes you feel as if your in the presence of honorable things. I wish above all else, to have this in my life. It is hard to know where to start, and scary to know that hardly anyone around you has the same desire to learn this, or possess it in thier lives.
In the movie, the Samurai Lord Katsumoto, while talking to Nathan in the gardens, walks to the Cherry trees that are in blossom and says
The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.
When at the end of the film, and the last battle of the Samurai is done, Katsumor lies on the ground dying. He takes his own life, as is the custom of the Samurai. As Nathan holds him, Katsumoto again looks upon the blossoms and says, “Perfect… They are all… perfect…” It might be a code of conduct that you can not understand, but what I got from that was that even in his death, he was sure of his life; of the fact that he knew he lived honorably, and that he saw with a clear eye how everything is perfect and deserves to be treated with honor.
Such a small price to pay for such a well spent existance. If I could use a time machine to go back in time, I would go back and tell my younger self about honor, and how in the near future it will be slipping away from us. I would tell my younger self that beyond all other pursits in my life, seeking Honor would be the most important life changing thing I could do. Then I would be able to say that I too saw the blossoms as perfect, each and every one.