Japan's pacifist samurai film is 'scream' against violence

By Fiachra Gibbons and Franck Iovene

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As someone who can be called "old," and who has a lot of time on his hands, I realize that I do have opinions, and that I enjoy expressing them. To that end, I would say that I like my stories to be based on real, historical characters. A story about a warrior is not by itself an endorsement or a criticism of violence and war, but is just a story of how someone dealt with the violent circumstances they found themselves in. A made up story can be entertaining and even educational, but runs the risk of being dated and irrelevant. That said, I will probably see this new movie, and I certainly hope that it is worthy of our admiration.

There is an American movie about a real man who was a pacifist during World War II, "Hacksaw Ridge." Desmond Doss refused to abandon up his convictions against violence towards his fellow humans, but was willing to serve as an unarmed medic in the Pacific War. He attempted to save both American and Japanese lives in battle, often being injured himself. I may not agree with every decision he made in life, but I can read the book about him, and see the movie about him, and try to understand how a real person dealt with the violent times that he found himself in.

Alvin York was an American pacifist, during World War I, who ended up deciding to give up his pacifist convictions, and he went on to become a war hero.

These are stories that I find interesting.

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Indeed, the reduced characters of samurais are unfortunate. In fact, samurai is originated from China and deeply linked to Confucianism. Samurais are by no means violent and killing only. I hope Japanese artists and Chinese artists can joint hands to produce more movies based on common history to change the distorted image that between Japan and China there is only feud.

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Human history is filled with violence. We each have a dark side to our nature that can succumb to hatred and fear. We also have a real need to respond appropriately when faced with someone who wants to use violence against us, individually or collectively. One can hope that we humans are entering a new, brighter time in our evolution, but that is not assured. The subject of this film is very important and interesting.

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