The Last Samurai Shooting process

2021-10-18 09:27
Zwick handed over several books on Japanese history and culture to Cruise. As long as he was free, the crew could see Cruise reading tirelessly. In order to cope with the large number of action scenes in the film, Cruise trained for 8 months. He arrived on the set two hours earlier than the others to practice. Not only did he learn kendo and Japanese martial arts, but he also learned to fight immediately. Cruise completed most of the stunt shots himself.
Ken Watanabe, who plays Katsuemoto, also completed most of the special effects after undergoing hard training, but in the early stages of production, as a modern Japanese with a complete Western education, Watanabe could not understand the "death to death" of the samurai and villagers led by Katsuemoto. behavior. But he finally figured out that for Katsumi, life and death are irrelevant, the honor of the samurai is the most important. Katsuemoto is a leader worshipped by the samurai, so he often needs to make inflammatory speeches. For this reason, Watanabe often has to talk to more than 500 people in the scene, and often shouts speechless.
In order to create a real Meiji era atmosphere, the art designer Lily Corvette started full preparations for the film a few months before the start of the film. She led the production team to spend hundreds of hours reading historical materials, including various books, pictures and documents from the Meiji period and before, constantly consulting experts, inquiring about the building materials of the Meiji period, and even the varieties of decorative leaves. In the end, all the buildings in the film were built by the art department; there are 150 “artificial” cherry trees, each of which is dotted with detachable branches and leaves that are messy enough to meet the needs of different scenery in the four seasons. This kind of "season change" scene may happen many times a day.
To recreate the traditional samurai village in the film, Corvette led more than 200 people to develop a 40-hectare plot of land in New Plymouth, New Zealand. They transported the wood by helicopter. The roof thatch was taken from a nearby valley and piled up by hand. The cloth was dyed in different colors to distinguish the samurai team. Except for a small amount of materials imported from Japan, all projects are made on-site in New Zealand. The New Zealand government also provided the film crew with a venue for the climax of the film, but the 40-foot-high and 400-foot-wide earthwork had to be shoveled away. During the shooting, a greening team composed of 25 people was on standby at any time. Between shooting, they had to rush to the field to repair the turf that was trampled by the horses.
In terms of clothing production, costume designer Dixon led tailors in Japan, Los Angeles and New Zealand, and strictly followed historical pictures, documentary records and interviews with historians to produce more than 2,000 Meiji-era clothing. All the costumes of the main actors are made in Japan. After designing the style, Dixon personally went to Japan to select materials and hand-sewn, because this procedure is exactly the process of making ancient kimonos. Dixon even found a costume designer in Japan who had collaborated with Akira Kurosawa in the past, and thus gained valuable production experience.
In addition, the colors of all the clothes in the film are determined according to the character of the characters. For example, the colors of Katsumoto's kimono are mainly dark blue and brown; while the character of Dolizi is sad at first, so the color of the clothes is used. She was also depressed, and as the relationship between her and Nathan grew deeper, the color of her clothing began to lighten up, blooming like flowers. The production of samurai armor is quite complicated. The whole process is completed by the blacksmith, tailor and jeweler. Each piece of armor is made up of hundreds of accessories through multiple processes.
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Extended Reading

The Last Samurai quotes

  • Algren: You want me to kill Jappos, I'll kill Jappos.

    Colonel Bagley: I'm not asking you to kill anybody.

    Algren: You want me to kill THE ENEMIES of Jappos, I'll kill THE ENEMIES of Jappos... Rebs, or Sioux, or Cheyenne... For 500 bucks a month I'll kill whoever you want. But keep one thing in mind: I'd happily kill you for free.

  • Algren: [Narrating] I have been hired to suppress the rebellion of yet another tribal leader. Apparently, this is the only job for which I am suited. I am beset by the ironies of my life.

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