The term “Bushido” is used to describe a uniquely Japanese code of conduct adhered to by Samurai, and is said to have emphasized virtues such as loyalty, honour, obedience, duty, filial piety, and self- sacrifice. It is about a journey the Samurai take to fight the modernisation that has taken over the Emperor and his people. I think Bushido is a recurring term used throughout the film, The Last Samurai.
Bushido is first introduced into the film in scene 9 when General Husigowa sacrifices his own life during the first battle against the Western army. Husigowa claims this to be ‘an honourable death’ as his head is bowed and cut off by Katsumodo. This presents the values of self-sacrifice, honour and loyalty- 3 virtues represented in Bushido. The audience is then introduced to the idea of Bushido, and why this battle is occurring.
In scene 28, Nobutada as well as Algren and a few allies, decide to free Katsumodo from his arrest, but during the escape, Nobutada is killed. Katsumodo in panic tries to help Nobutada but is stopped when Nobutada says, “Father, let me stay. It is my time.” Self- sacrifice as well as duty and obedience are displayed in this short time of the film as Nobutada takes on the rest of the enemy with his last few ragged breaths.
In the same scene, Katsumodo wishes to take his own life as he evaluates that the way of the Samurai cannot be heard anymore, and that he has failed his ancestors of 900 years. Algren motivates and pushes forth Katsumodo to live and die by the sword of his enemies, not himself, as they have a duty to fulfil and Bushido to stand with.
Towards the end of the film, in scene 39, Algren bows to the Emperor and simply states, "Your Highness, if you believe I am your enemy. Command me, and I will gladly take my life." These words by Algren present to the Emperor he is not in fact the enemy of which his advisor made Algren sound, but he is a part