The Last Samurai

Essay on change – “Change does not occur without a trigger”

While change is inevitable, it cannot occur without a catalyst. Whether the catalyst is internal or external it is initiated by the individual’s environment, an external force. Edward Zwick’s “The Last Samurai” and Stephen Donaldson’s “Lord Foul’s Bane” both explore the concept of external forces triggering change, the effects of triggers and the protagonists view towards the catalyst within themselves and the environment. Zwick and Donaldson approach their protagonists in different ways, Zwick uses a decorated and honoured American soldier, where Donaldson portrays an Anti-Hero character in the form of leprosy ridden Thomas Covenant.

Point A

Despite whether a cause for change affects the physical or psychological development of an individual the trigger is generated through the external environment. Director Zwick has utilised camera angles and shots to grant significance to certain events throughout the film. In scene 24 a samurai warrior is viewed kneeling from an above camera angle, surrounded by soldiers. The high camera angle degrades the status of the samurai, adding to the shame of the removal of the tradition topknot. The circle of uniformed soldiers surrounding the traditionally garbed samurai acts to contrast between the western and the cultural, the individual and the crowd. Donaldson uses imagery describe the catalyst that completely changes the direction of the book, “It skidded and swerved at the speed of its turn… as he dropped, he had a vague sense that he was falling too soon, that he had not been hit yet”.

The effect of these catalysts is to signify a change in the plot of the story. In lord Foul’s Bane the catalyst causes Thomas to enter a mystical environment where he must aid the people of “The Land”. In the last samurai the catalyst allows Algren to acknowledge the way samurai, later enabling Algren to aid Katsumoto escape almost certain death.

As Thomas’...