Bigger scans for Marie Claire coming soon
From Harvard to Hollywood and Back
Writer-producer-director Ed Zwick went back to school yesterday, as a teacher at Harvard, his alma mater, with a gift in hand: a preview screening and discussion of his soon-to-be-released work, “The Last Samurai.” The movie, starring Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe, is a fictional story — although based on historical figures and actual events — of an American Civil War hero who travels to Japan to train the Emperor’s troops on the use of firearms in wartime. “I’m excited to be back here,” Zwick said, observing that Harvard Square had changed since his student days but that it still had that unique feel. Zwick brought students and faculty a final print of the movie, a version he had yet to see until the Loews Harvard Square screening Sunday night. (After the screening, he met with faculty members of Harvard’s Asian studies department. “They were most receptive and generous,” Zwick said. Then off he went last night to New York for a reception with the Japanese Ambassador to the United States.) Despite the opening of this epic just a few weeks away, Zwick seemed almost too calm, looking forward to a morning of talking to students. “I like the full-circle aspect to it,” said Zwick.”
And, Hanz Zimmer on the Last Samurai
Hans Zimmer’s score for Edward Zwick’s Japanese adventure The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, will be released on CD by Elektra Records on 25th November. Previously described by the composer as a ‘Gladiator in Japan’, the score is now being promoted prior to the film’s premiere.
As the film is set in Japan in the 1870s, Zimmer felt that he had to capture the sound of Japanese music while writing Western melodies. “The first obstacle I faced with this score was that Japanese music can be truly inaccessible to most Western audiences,” explained Zimmer. He says that he tried “to find a way of contrasting the romanticism of America with the formality and stillness of Japan.” The theme for the Tom Cruise character is, in Hans Zimmer’s own words, “a typically overblown, restless, and, ultimately, very Western theme”.
The ethnic influences in the score are captured through the use of the Japanese Taiko drums. “Everybody uses Taikos in their scores these days, but I felt that nobody had ever really captured their awesome and emotional power. I spent three weeks recording and manipulating around 10,000 Taiko hits electronically until they started to sound natural, and then selected the best ones by their emotional resonance.”
Actor Tom Cruise almost made the ultimate sacrifice his new movie The Last Samurai when a co-star came close to cutting off his famous head.
Screen legend Tom was filming a sword fight scene opposite co-star Hiroyuki Sanada for the dramatic action movie. He was on an off-camera mechanical horse while Sanada swung the weapon about.
But it all nearly went horribly wrong – the machine stopped working suddenly and failed to move Cruise out of slashing range at the crucial moment.
Sanada says, “I swung my sword at Tom’s neck to behead him and the horse didn’t work.
“I stopped the blade just one inch from his neck.”
Source: TeenHollywood.com. Thanks Dilip!
What? No comments on the pictures Annie posted?
First, some more costume pictures from TLS. View them here
And another positive TLS review
I was among the lucky people who were treated to an advanced screening of The Last Samurai at the Harvard Square movie theatre. The director was there to introduce the first screening in America and to answer a couple of questions. But anyway, onto the review.
Let’s start by saying that this was one of the best films I have seen in a long time. There has been a dry spell as far as quality movies that have come out of Hollywood but in my opinion, The Last Samurai ends that spell with a very compelling, very powerful, well-paced, excellent combination of action and drama.
The trailers did not do it justice because they made it seem like Dances With Wolves in Japan. It’s true that there are some elements which resemble it, but The Last Samurai is much more engaging and captivating. The cinematography is beautiful although some of the action sequences are so fast and have so much going on that you find yourself not blinking because you do not want to miss anything. The fight sequences are nowhere near as violent as Kill Bill’s were. The fighting is very well choreographed and is truly beautiful. Like in Minority Report, Tom Cruise is not the sole focus of the movie. There are many well-defined characters that you truly care for and who are very human, not idealized, and this makes it a lot easier to relate even when they are in very unique and overwhelming situations.
One problem with these types of movies (one culture trying to protect itself form a more “modern and civilized” culture) is that they tend to demonize one culture. In this case, it is of course America and the modern side of Japan. Of course the film is partial to the Samurai culture and the more traditional values that they embody that the movie believes every other culture should have, but does not. But The Last Samurai does not completely turn Americans into devils… and it also looks at some of the practices of the Samurai which are not well-understood and can seem irrational at times. So in a sense, the film questions values of both cultures and shows that ignorance about our own and others’ cultures is often what leads to a lot of sorrow.
The film also goes within this greater situation to the personal stories of two men and their own personal battles. I mentioned humor. There are a few jokes sprinkled throughout the film, focusing around Cruise and his inadequacies while living with the Samurai, and they are very well-done, not corny or cheesy, and this helps to lighten up the mood throughout the film.
The movie is roughly two and a half hours long but it does not feel that long. The movie feels about one and a half to two hours, unlike other movies of its type. The humor, the action, and the story are all well-paced. The actors did an excellent job relating to one another and making the parts very believable and with depth.
The story is not as predictable as the trailers make it out to be. There are some very interesting twists throughout the film that change your perspective on certain things. I can’t say too much because I don’t want to spoil it. I would consider The Last Samurai to be one of Tom Cruise’s best roles and by far one of the best movies to come out in a long time. I wholeheartedly recommend this film. 5 stars.
The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine which is dated November, 14th 2003 has a small pic of Tom on the cover and it says as well that an on the set report is featured inside. You can see the cover below. I will get this issue in 3-4 weeks, so if anyone has the scans and/or article earlier, then feel free to send them to us.