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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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(2003), R

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
December 4, 2003
62 out of 100

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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents). Further, if you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

(2003), R -- ...intense and intensely graphic in violence and gore.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Warner Bros., The Bedford Falls Company, Cruise-Wagner Productions, Radar Pictures Inc.
Distribution (US): Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Pictures Inc.
Director(s): Edward Zwick
Producer(s): Tom Cruise, Michael Doven, Tom Engelman, Ted Field, Marshall Herskovitz, Scott Kroopf, Graham Larson, Charles Mulvehill, Richard Solomon, Paula Wagner, Vincent Ward, Edward Zwick
Written by/Screenplay: John Logan, Marshall Herskovitz, Edward Zwick
Cinematography/Camera: John Toll
Music: Blake Neely, Geoff Zanelli, Hans Zimmer
Film Editing: Steven Rosenblum
Casting: Yôko Narahashi, Victoria Thomas
Production Design: Lilly Kilvert
Art Direction: Christopher Burian-Mohr, Chris Burian-Mohr, Jess Gonchor, Kim Sinclair
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

The Last Samurai revealed a rather unique scoring distribution. First let me remind you of the CAP scoring ranges for the respective MPAA ratings earned by the movies in our comparative baseline database of movies. Each range below is out of a maximum possible 100 points:

  • G: 100 to 87
  • PG: 86 to 68
  • PG-13: 67 to 55
  • R: 54 and below.

    While The Last Samurai earned a final score of 62 (equivalent to PG-13 movies in the comparative baseline database), it earned a Wanton Violence/Crime (W) score of zero. It was intense and intensely graphic in violence and gore. The Last Samurai is fully equivalent to hardcore R-rated programming in violence [Prov. 16:29]. But the score of 74 in the Impudence/Hate (I) investigation area (which includes the use of foul language) makes the movie equivalent in Impudence/Hate to PG movies of the comparative baseline database [Prov. 22:11]. The Sexual Immorality (S) investigation area score of 95 makes the movie equivalent to G-rated movies in sexual immorality content [Rev. 21:27]. An area score of 60 in Drugs/Alcohol (D) makes the movie equivalent to a PG-13 in Drugs/Alcohol [Eph. 5:18]. The only investigation area which revealed programming equivalent to R-rated programming other than Wanton Violence/Crime was Offense to God (O). Even then, an Offense to God investigation area score of 53 placed it just two points under the bottom of the PG-13 scoring range, due mainly to the portrayal of worship of a false god and the use of God's name in vain though only four times and only one of them with the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11].

    Note that from the beginning of the CAP analysis service, cinematic deaths and killing due to portrayal of war/combat and lawful police action have been incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area rather than into Murder/Suicide (M) since the killing of an adversary trying to kill you is hardly murder but is indeed a violent action. Therefore, all but two of the many portrayals of deaths/killings in The Last Samurai were incorporated into Wanton Violence/crime. Only the two suicides were incorporated into Murder/Suicide.

    Regarding the Offense to God score being equivalent to other R-rated programs, this movie was about another culture, the Japanese culture of the late 19th century. The Japanese culture of the time was seriously involved in worshiping a false god, false in accordance with the Word of God [Ex. 20:3; Deut. 6:14 - 15; Deut. 8:19]. There were several portrayals of praying to a false god and of claiming the Emperor was a living god. While it would be politically correct to disregard these matters, this is Christian ministry. That some choose to worship a false god or idol does not mean we as Christians have to embrace it or be silent about it. We do not have to and should not compromise our faith for the sake of a culture, even within our own borders. Indeed, we are asked to stand lovingly strong and bold in our faith ... with our heels dug in ... that we may be beacons for the Truth of God. That is how I hope to to be perceived by showing respect for and admiring the beauty of the Japanese people without embracing their religion. Indeed, embracing the practice of worshiping a false god would encourage in others that which God says is sin which would be a sin itself [1Cor. 10:32]. These matters, in addition to four uses of God's name in vain, once with and three without the four letter expletive, revealed a content in Offense to God equivalent to some R-rated movies.

    Suppose they gave a war and you were the only one who showed up? That is how 1876 San Francisco Civil War hero, Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) felt ... a war hero with no war. The only thing Algren can find that even resembles the glory of the battles that built him into a hero is working for the Winchester rifle company as a plant to boost rifle sales with occasional live appearances. Drinking his past into a blur with the present, Algren pines for the glory he once knew.

    Now comes into Algren's life a delegation of Japanese officials seeking American war experts to train the Emperor's rag-tag military force in modern warfare. A "bad guy" Samurai, Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe) was interfering with the construction of a railroad being built by the Emperor. The Emperor's forces were no match for the well-disciplined Samurai warriors skilled in guerrilla warfare under the leadership of Katsumoto. So the Emperor sought an advantage. An advantage Algren agreed to provide for $500 per month.

    Algren immediately set to building an effective battle force from less-than-capable and reluctant warrior wannabes. Accompanying Algren to Japan were his trusted compatriot Sergeant Zebulah Grant (Billy Connolly) and previous commander Colonel Benjamin Bagley (Tony Goldwyn). There was strong (very well played) animosity between Bagley and Algren. Bagley, who claimed to be following orders, led the slaughter of a Native American village of women and children. Algren swore to take advantage of the first opportunity to kill Bagley for his culpability in that slaughter. Impressionable folks might even be able to sympathize with Algren's hostility toward Bagley because of the effectiveness of the imagery of the slaughter of the women and children.

    During a melee with the Samurai led by Katsumoto and his brother-in-law (I don't know his name), Algren's ill-prepared battle force was crushed and Algren was captured. As a last lunge of battle, Algren killed Katsumoto's brother-in-law. One might think that being captured by those one was trying to kill would be the end. Not so in this case. Katsumoto kept Algren alive even though Algren killed his brother-in-law, his sister Taka's (Koyuki) husband.

    In his captivity, Algren learned many things. His captivity turned out to be more that of an incarcerated trustee than a captive. Algren learned of the Samurai way of life, learned the skills of a Samurai and taught Katsumoto the English language. Algren also developed a keen interest in Taka. This is where the only sexual programming appears. Algren spied Taka while bathing though she was covered and later shows the same clearly loving but sexual interest in Taka.

    As life in captivity in the Samurai mountainside village progressed, Algren became more of a resident than a captive. Algren slowly developed a strong respect and admiration for the Samurai and for Katsumoto as well. The village was attacked by some ninja months after Algren's capture and Algren used the skills he had learned and fought the ninja at the side of Katsumoto. From that point on, relationships started changing as did allegiances.

    This is a 143 minute film and many additional things happened. So many things that even a summary commentary could take pages. So, I will end the plot and story description here and leave for your final assessment of whether this film is or is not fit for your family up to your inspection of the listing in the Findings/Scoring section.

    SPECIAL NOTE: We will be reducing the volume of coverage in the Summary/Commentary section of our reports and the number of reports generated in an effort to reduce costs until full funding can be achieved. The Findings/Scoring section of each report, the heart of the analysis model, will NOT be reduced in any way.

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    If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.
  • Prov. 22:11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
  • Rev. 21:27 Nothing impure will ever enter it [the holy city - Heaven], nor will anyone [who is unforgiven] who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life [who is forgiven].
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. ["Wine" can be any intoxicating substance. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is to get drunk. A recent study has found an undeniable link between the presentation of alcoholic beverages and tobacco in and as entertainment and abuse of them by adolescents . And teaching/causing youth to abuse alcohol/tobacco by emboldening youth with them in and as entertainment invokes Luke 17:2]
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name.]
  • Ex. 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Deut. 6:14 - 15 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth. Deut. 8:19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. [Don't be lulled by the attempts of many to soften the gravity of the Old Testament. God may no longer rain fire from the sky or smite entire populations, but is not burning in Hell for all eternity (if unforgiven) - perishing - yet more severe?]
  • 1Cor. 10:32 [NIV] Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God - [KJV] Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: [According to Strong's, "stumble" (proskopto) is a derivative of "offense" ("aproskopos") and both speak metaphorically to being induced or led into to sin ]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent, situationally redefine, counterfeit, conditionally apply] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    The last Samurai (2003) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • bloody art
  • reckless gunfire for show
  • brutal carnage of the Cavalry killing American Indian women and children
  • reckless gunfire to intimidate
  • graphic implements, many, repeatedly
  • warfare brutality, repeatedly
  • many deaths by arrow, gunfire, cannon fire, sword, incineration and spear, repeatedly, at least 66 of which were magnified by individualizing the killings, even during battle
  • beheadings, repeatedly
  • sword threat to neck with injury
  • field surgery gore
  • flashes of carnage
  • severe beating
  • offer to commit suicide, repeatedly
  • order to kill
  • bully assault tactics
  • assaults, repeatedly
  • brutal defensive killings by sword separate from battle, repeatedly
  • machine gun slaughter of many
  • fields of dead bodies
  • aftermath of suicide with blade still impaled
  • vengeance killing of one

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • eleven uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • sensuality surrounding bathing
  • sexual attraction

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • drunkenness
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • using alcoholic beverage as pain killer

    Offense to God (O)
  • claim of "karma" being in control of life
  • "What I have seen has led me to question God's purpose"
  • "You are a living god"
  • "I am a living god"
  • praying to a false god, repeatedly"

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • two suicides by sword, once as hari kari, a Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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