for educational use only for educational use only
THE LAST SAMURAI
Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz
A BRIGHT BLUE TIGER
Surrounded by a pack of dogs, ten of them snarling and gnashing their teeth.
The TIGER'S, eyes burn with fury as he wheels in a circle, lunging at one
dog clawing at another, keeping them all at bay.
Suddenly, the TIGER leaps over the dogs and transforms into a WHITE
BIRD, soaring majestically into the sky.
THE FACE OF A JAPANESE MAN
Sits up into frame, sweating, waking from a dream. He is KATSUMOTO.
We will come to know him later.
Fade to black. CREDITS OVER.
The faint SOUND of a BRASS BAND.
WINCHESTER REP (V.O.)
the leader in all forms of armament used by the
United States Army. When you need a friend,
Winchester is by your side. .
THE FACE OF AN AMERICAN MAN
As he smokes a cigar, barely listening. CAPTAIN _NATHAN ALGREN,
U.S. Army, ret, 36 years old and looking every da y of it. His eyes are lined
and saddened. He takes a swig from a flask. He is BACKSTAGE at:
INT. CONVENTION HALL SAN FRANCISCO DAY
Where a trade show is in progress. Scantily clad lovelies in red-white-and-
blue undies demonstrate the nation's most important new export: arms.
Every weapon imaginable is on display: rifles, pistols, even howitzers. Banners
declaim the virtues of Winchester and Springfield. Of Colt and Remington
and Smith & Wesson. Crowds mill around a stage. where:
Ladies and Gentlemen ... the Winchester
Corporation is proud to bring to you... a true
American hero. A patriot who has proven his
gallantry time and again on the field of battle.
LITTLE TIN SOLDIERS are all lined up. A mass of grey. Rebel troops
surrounding a band of blue Union cavalry. A large, metal diorama.
I hope you will join us in welcoming ...Late of
the U.S. Cavalry. The Savior of Sutter Hill ...
Captain Nathan Algren!
A last swig. Algren steels himself, then strides onstage as we reveal a banner:
WINCHESTER PRESENTS: THE MIRACLE AT SUTTER'S HILL!
Garish limelight from a row of foot lights illuminates Algren.
My thanks, Mr. McCabe... Ladies and Gents.
He looks down at the little metal soldiers and begins to tell the story of the
battle that made him famous. His narration is halting, unsteady:
... On that fateful day, Johnny Reb had us in a
spot, perched on the lonely top of Sutter's Hill,
nothing but grey as far as the eye could see:
Unhorsed and out of ammunition, I gazed down
into the, um, mael... mael...
(squints to see better)
-maelstrom below us, and saw them moving up.
We realize he is reading from cue cards. The little Rebel soldiers begin sliding
up the metal hill.
I knew it was fight or die. Into the teeth of the
enemy or we would all be buried... buried ...
(loses his place, under his breath)
(finds it again)
...on the same hill with our comrades a1ready
gone to Merciful Heaven...
A sudden flash:
Algren's mind. The real battle of Sutter's Hill. The grim reality is ver y
different from the dashing tale. Union soldiers scream in agony. Those
horses still alive buck and froth at their tether. .
Algren, a lieutenant then, moves among the panicked, bloody men. He stops beside a
PRIVATE, his brother, DAVID ALGREN, 19, blonde, not much more than a boy.
They're coming, Nate.
He looks over the wall. Rebel troops are moving up the hill.
Keep your head down.
Papa alwa ys said we should've joined the navy.
What'd he know?
(looks fondly at his brother)
You watch me now. Do whatever I say. .
Aye-a ye, lieutenant.
Algren punches his shoulder and moves on down the line. Nearby, Algren's
friend, SERGEANT ZEBULAH GANT, though severel y wounded, reloads
his revolver with the last of his ammunition.
How're the horses?
Better than you. Smell better, too.
(looks at him)
Can you hold on, Zeb?
(fighting the pain)
I got I choice?
Algren smiles sadly. His mend will die loon without medical attention.
Algren moves down the line, bullets whizzing overhead. He kneels beside
COLONEL BAGLEY, his commanding officer.
We need a flag. Find me a goddamn white flag!
What are you talking about?!
Surrender, damn it! That's an order!
Back to the convention hall:
No thought of surrender among those boy.
Better to die as God made us, we thought, as
soldiers... So I gave the order. Mister Bugler,
sound mount up. Mister Bugler, sound prepare
arms. There were only thirty of us, but we had
fire in us yet. I looked down the hill at the destiny
ordained for us. And gave the order. Mister
The little Union cavalry soldiers begin moving down slots in the hill.
On Sutter's Hill:
Algren leads a chaotic cavalry charge down the hill toward the advancing rebel
infantry -- artillery explosi ons - bullets snapping, trees shattering.
Algren's brother, Davey, rides beside him.
The wounded Sergeant Gant pulls himself up, waves his cap and yells.
Bagley remains cowering behind the stone wall.
Back to the convention hall:
And straight into them we went...
On Sutter's Hill :
Carnage. Union and Confederate soldiers slam together, falling, drowning in mud
and blood, stepped on by panicked hones.
Algren wields his saber in one hand and his revolver in the other, serving
death on all sides.
A soldier riding next to Davey is shot. A horse falls into a shellhole.
Back to the convention hall:
"Hip-hip hurray" we shouted, for we
had spirit in us yet--
Algren slices right and left with his saber. He is a truly gifted swordsman.
A tree branch knocks Davey from his horse. He sits, dazed, on the ground.
Algren kills a rebel soldier just as be is about to fire on him.
Single-handedly, be rallies his men, screaming orders, then lifts his wounded
brother onto the saddle beside him.
He leads them downhill toward safel y, Davey clinging to him for dear life.
Back to the convention hall:
Before they knew what hit them, we had broken
through into the rear of the rebel army.
On Sutter's Hill:
Algren and his men gather in a copse of trees. They are giddy with the exhilaration
of having survived.
We did it, bro', WE DID IT! Whoeeeee!!
Algren's smile is shortlived, though.
SUDDENLY, the woods ERUPT with gunfire. Trees are shredded.
Algren's men are literally cut to pieces-
Davey is riddled with bullets, his dead body shielding Algren from harm until
he slides, lifeless, to the mud.
Men and horses are torn apart -- they contort and writhe in agony jerking
grotesquely as the bullets rip into them. Algren frantica1ly tries to locate the
source of this firepower. Then he sees:
A Gatling Gun.
Six barrels glisten like steel teeth. This early machine gun is the pinnacle of
current military might -- 60 rounds a second -- a triumph in engineering.
With insane courage, he wheels and charges the gun.
Bullets rip into horse and rider alike. Algren falls, lifeless, into the mud.
Back to the convention hall:
And the 23rd rode on to glory.
At the back of the hall three elegantly dressed JAPANESE MEN watch
Algren's performance. They wear Western frock coats and top hats
Now let me: tell you, gentlemen, if there's one
thing on earth I could have had with me on that
glorious day, it would have been this beauty...
Algren holds up a Winchester repeating rifle.
At the back of the audience we note someone else watching Algren.
SERGEANT ZEBULON GANT, whom we last saw on Sutter's Hill.
The Winchester Model '73 lever-action rifle.
15 shot capacity, one round-per-second,
accurate at 400 yards. You'll note the
patented loading port just beneath the
cartridge chamber and the smooth
cocking action. ...Lets' just see here--
He peers into the ejection port as he cocks the weapon and sights out over the
KA-BOOM!!! The report echoes among the screams of the ladies. Dust and
glass fall from a rear chandelier.
Smooth trigger action, too.
Audience-members murmur nervousl y.
This is, gentlemen, The Gun That Is Winning The
West... Step on up and take a look. Mr. McCabe is
here to answer any question and take orders. I thank
A Winchester representative is handing Algren an envelope.
What the hell was that?
Got their attention, didn't I?
Boston in three weeks. And sober this time.
He goes. Algren immediately starts counting the cash.
INT. SEEDY HOTEL ROOM NIGHT
Algren sits alone on the bed. He takes out a leather-bound journal and begins to write.
June 17th, 1876. The dead are with me tonight.
They return each time I am obliged to tell their
INT. SQUALID BAR NIGHT
Algren sips absinthe. He stares at the milky, green liquid before him.
I can almost see them in the shadows, their
bodies whole and beautiful once more. Sometimes
it's as if they call to me in a sweet invitation --
EXT. GAS-LIT STREET NIGHT
Algren walks in the fog. Sputtering gas lamps give an unearthly glow.
"We are dead," they whisper, "and we are happy."
INT. SEEDY HOTEL ROOM NIGHT
Algren is back in the hotel room. From his small suitcase, he takes the
Medal of Honor, looks at it for a long moment.
"Do not be afraid," they whisper. "You have been
A sudden flash:
We are back on Sutter's Hill. Algren's slaughtered cavalry litter the bloody
ground, dead to the last man. A rebel army surgeon gives a cursory look at
each body before it is loaded onto a wagon.
Algren's turn is no different than the others. He is declared dead and hoisted
unceremoniously onto the pile of corpses.
Back in the. hotel room.:
Algren sits, staring into the middle distance.
Is this why they gave their lives? So that I might
disgrace their memory?
He reaches into the suitcase and takes out a Colt revol ver. Stares at it, cracks
the cylinder to make sure it's loaded. His finger wraps around the trigger,
the barrel makes its wa y toward his head.
And then, unaccountabl y, he is laughing.
And why, after taking so many lives, do I find
myself incapable of taking just one more?
A KNOCK on the door. Algren shuts his eyes, then calls out.
Go awa y.
GANT (V .O.)
Not exactly the greeting I imagined.
Algren looks up. He knows that voice. He carefully puts the revolver back into the suitcase and shuts it before
opening the door.
Thought you'd seen the last of me, I expect.
Algren is filled with emotion, which he tries to hide.
Gant moves to the proffered chair with a pronounced limp.
... Saw your little melodrama toda y.
Very inspiring... .
Given up soldiering to become a critic?
Gant smiles and shakes his head.
Got a job for you, unless you're running for
I have I job.
I mean a real job. Back in uniform.
I' m retired.
I don't mean a U.S. uniform.
Algren looks at him. Curious despite himself.
INT. RESTAURANT NIGHT
Gant leads Algren into a lush San Francisco restaurant. Flickering gaslight
and trays of lobster. COLONEL BENJAMIN BAGLEY (whom we saw in
flashback) sits with the three Japanese men. Bagley's hair has greyed. He
has his eye on a political future.
Nathan, good to see you.
Sit down. This is Mr. Omura, from Japan, and
his two associates who, so far as I can tell, don't
OMURA 40, is a handsome and intelligent man. He watches Algren closel y
as Algren pours a glass or whiskey from a decanter.
They're looking to hire real American soldiers to
create the first Japanese Imperial Army.
Algren looks at him.
Japan's got it in mind to become a civilized
country and they're willing to spend what it takes
to hire white experts to do the job right.
Algren takes a slow lip of whiskey.
Sergeant Gant has already agreed to serve. You
would be m y second-in-command.
With approval from Washington, of course.
Both governments prefer to consider our mission
unofficial. We'd be there as non-combatants
only, advisors to the Japanese officers. Help
them with training, ordinance and the like.
You ought to think about it., Captain. Unless
you intend to take up a career in the theater.
I have an agreement with the Winchester
Corporation -- I'm sure these people have some
concept of what an agreement is.
Omura suddenly speaks. His English is flawless.
You are paid seven dollars for each performance.
You do, on average, fourteen performances a
year. We will pay you 400 dollars.
Algren looks at him. The figure, in 1876, is staggering.
EXT SHIP--OCEAN DAY
A steamship chums its wa y across the great Pacific. Algren leans on the
ship's rail and looks out into an endless processi on of wa ves.
June 23, 1876. It is impossible, standing here,
not to appreciate one's, own insignificance.
A dolphin crests the surface, arcing into the air.
Here there is neither past, nor future. Only an
oblivion of water.
In his tiny cabin, Algren finishes writing in his journal and takes out a
daguerreot ype of a HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL BLOND WOMAN.
And yet I ask myself, will the dead follow me
across the ocean to this strange new land?
He stares at the woman in the picture.
INT. SHIP CABIN DAY
In the main cabin, Algren sits with Gant and Omura. Algren is drinking.
...After the Shogun gave up power, the daimyos
you would call them warlords --knew that Japan
needed a centralized government. So they asked
the hereditary Emperor, His Highness the
Enlightened Meiji, to lead the country.
And these warlords just ... gave up hundreds of
years of power?
Economic incentives were offered. Most
provincial leaders saw the financial benefits of
What about those that didn't?
To deal with those who have resisted, the
Emperor has decided to create an Army with
allegiance only to him... We considered hiring
advisors from Germany, but your Ambassador
reminded us of your experience in suppressing rebellious
elements in your Civil War.
This evocation of the Civil War is not lost on Algren.
Who are we supposed to be fighting against?
His name is Mori Katsumoto. He is samurai.
The word you might use it "warrior". But that
does not quite capture it ... Katsumoto once served
the Emperor but he is now a traitor who leads a
band of traitors. He must be punished.
Algren looks pointedly at Bagley.
You told them about our experiences together
on Sutter's Hill, did you, Colonel?
They know I was your commanding officer.
Algren glares at Bagley, then stands.
Excuse me, gentlemen. I need some air.
I'm sure Colonel Bagley can amuse you with
more stories of patriotic gore.
He walks away.
He is insolent.
Get him in front of the troops, you'll see. Top
of his class at West Point. Brilliant tactician.
Even wrote a book.
Why did he leave your army?
What's a hero to do when there's no more great
Is that an evasive answer?
Sir, this man was left for dead at Sutter's Hill.
Doct ors swore his heart had stopped beating,
but before they could bury him, he came back to
life. After the war he fought the Sioux, the Cree,
and the Blackfoot.
(leans closer) .
Point him at the enemy. He was born for it.
INT. SHIP -- ALGREN'S BERTH NIGHT
Algren lies in his cramped berth. Can't sleep.
A sudden flash:
On the wagon of dead bodies, Algren's eyes open to stare into the unblinking
eyes of his brother, Davey, half his face shot off. He tries to move but be is
buried beneath the weight of those piled on top of him. Blood drips down
into his eyes and mouth, blinding and choking him.
Back to the ship:
Algren awakens, bathed in sweat. Terror. A silhouette in the doorwa y.
Colonel Bagley stands looking down at him.
I hope you realize the kind of second chance
this is for you. I won't tolerate insubordination.
Algren reaches for a nearby glass, drains it.
Would you rather I hadn't recommended you
for the medal. Nathan? Is that it?
We both know why you helped me, Colonel.
Don't expect me to go all weepy with gratitude.
I expect you to do your job. Save the self-pity
for your own time.
He turns and walks out, leaving Algren to stare at the empty glass.
EXT. SHIP DAY
Algren and Gant stand at the rail.
Hate boats. If the Lord bad wanted man to sail
he wouldn't have created infantry.
How many rimes you puke today?
I'm down to two.
Omura comes up next to them.
I understand you are a scholar, Captain Algren.
Have you read his book., Mr. Gant?
Can't say I have.
An analysis of the triumph of weapons technology
over antiquated military tactics.
A real page-turner. Sold twelve copies.
Nonetheless, I was impressed. I enjoy reading
military history. I spent two years studying
English at Princeton University.
And where did you learn to speak Japanese?
Omura is perplexed by Algren's remark, then realizes he is being kidded. He
laughs heartily. Algren laughs with him. A connection is made.
Yes, and in Japanese there are twenty-seven
words for "war." I will be impressed if you learn
only half of them. .
He walks away. Algren watches him go. His face darkens.
I got twenty-seven words too - Reb, Sioux,
Pawnee, Blackfoot, Jappo. Only one language
when it comes to war.
EXT. YOKOHAMA HARBOR DAY
Like all Japan, Yokohama is at the cusp of a new era.
Ancient sampans and wooden schooners beside freighters and steamships.
EXT. YOKOHAMA DOCK DAY
After 23 days at sea, they are all glad to climb down the gangplank. The
Yokohama docks are a frenzy of languages and looks and smells and sounds.
Japanese competes with German and English and French and Russian.
Warehouses fl y the flags of a dozen countries.
One striking Japanese character dominates: the symbol for, Omura. It is seen
on buildings, warehouses, and the headbands of scores of laborers.
A series of palanquins, litters carried by bearers, await our voyagers.
As does SIMON GRAHAM, a dissipated Englishman who has lived in Japan
for many yean. Slender and pale, with an occasional consumptive cough, in
his 50's, he wears a white linen suit, a bit worse for wear.
Captain Algren, this is Mr. Simon Graham. He
will be your translator.
You'll be quartered at the Embassy for now.
The Emperor will summon you at his pleasure.
Graham ushers Algren and Gant into their own less-ornate version.
If you please, Captain...
They're gonna carry us?
You're guests of the Emperor. You cannot walk.
Algren notes the hoods covering the faces of the palanquin bearers.
Why the hoods?
So you won't have to burden your eyes by looking
at slaves. Oh, excuse me, they're servants now.
(coughs, wipes a bit of blood)
This wa y, gentlemen...
INT /EXT PALANQUIN - YOKOHAMA STREETS DAY
Their bearers maneuver them through the bustling streets of Yokohama.
White face painted geishas walk alongside bearded Russians. Traditional
Japanese kimonos alongside European suits and hats, schizophrenic world
of ancient Japan versus modern commercialism.
Twenty years ago Yokohama was a lovel y little
port. Then your Commodore Perry arrived and
changed all that.
All this in twenty years?
Japan has...embraced... Western wa ys. Hired
lawyers from France, doctors from Germany,
naval architects from Britain, civil engineers,
railway designers, scientists, teachers. And, of
course, warriors from the United States.
Buying the future.
Or selling the past...
INT. GUEST QUARTERS DAY
A shoji screen is opened by a bowing servant to reveal the clean, classic lines
of a Japanese room. Algren is about to enter when Graham stops him,
indicating for Algren to remove his boots.
Algren scowls, confused, and struggles to pull off the high, filthy boots. He takes
in the foreigness of the room, an arrangement of fl owers on a low table.
No chairs? . .
Correct. And this--
(points to a mat)
..is your bed.
He points to a block of wood.
You mean to say there are no real beds in Japan?
For its entire history Japan his been completely
aakoku, I "closed country." Thirty years ago, if
you had washed up on Japanese soil... you would
have been beheaded on sight. Now, they let you
keep your head... and give you a wooden pillow.
EXT. AMERICAN EMBASSY-. GARDEN DAYS LATER
In the pristine grounds of the Embassy, a garden party is in progress.
Incongruous lilting Yankee tunes are heard from the Japanese band.
Algren and Gant, now in their dress uniforms wander through the party with Graham.
Liveried servants pall trays of canapés.
Elsewhere we see diplomats representing all the powers currently trying to devour
Japan: Russia; England; Germany; France; Spain; etc.
I remember when it was just America and the
Dutch. Now ever ybody' s getting into the game.
They pass two German diplomats. The Germans glance to Algren and Gant with suspicion, bow tersely.
Graham greets them in German.
The Germans are particularly eager.
What do they want?
Same thing your country wants. Most favored
How long have you been in Japan?
Oh, western time quickly loses its meaning here
... I first came as part of the British legation in 1857.
But I was soon relieved of m y position, as a result
of various...disagreements with the
Crown's attitude toward the locals.
Omura separates himself from his entourage and approaches.
Gentlemen. I hope you are enjoying a taste of
I've done with worse, believe me.
America has much to offer us, though. Its'
industry and ingenuity are without peer.
I have spoken to the Emperor about you. He is
interested in the most modem theories of warfare.
I look forward to the opportunity of meeting
You will have that chance sooner than you think.
He has requested an audience.
Graham is open-mouthed at this turn of events.
EXT. IMPERIAL PALACE DAY
Algren and Bagley sit with Graham in an ornate carriage as they cross the
moat and enter the ancestral palace of the Shoguns.
INT. IMPERIAL PALACE ANTECHAMBER DAY
Algren waits with Bagley and Graham outside the throne room.
Remember that he is arahitogami. A god in
human form. During the last two hundred years
no emperor was even seen by commoner. You
may look at him, with deference, but do not speak
unless you are spoken to.
EXT. IMPERIAL COURT -- THRONE ROOM DAY
Algren and Gant are surprised to discover the living god is barely in his
twenties. The divine EMPEROR MEIJI is an intelligent and curious young man,
yet there is a tentativeness about him.
His throne is surrounded by ADVISORS, principal among them is Omura.
Nearby, the American AMBASSADOR SWANBECK a cagey diplomat
The throne room itself is sweeping, beautiful, and extremely restrained. Everywhere,
tasteful displays of the traditional flower of the monarchy: chrysanthemums.
The vibrant yellow bl ossoms haunt the chamber.
As the Emperor considers his guests, Omura whispers into his ear. Then:
The Emperor bids you welcome. He wishes you
to know that he is most grateful for the assistance
your country offers ours, in order to rid ourselves
of the brutality of the provincial warlords - and
to accomplish the same national harmony which
you enjoy in your homeland.
The Emperor speaks in Japanese. The advisors are non-plussed, and Omura leans down
for a moment to confer with him, then smiles indulgently:
The Emperor is most interested in your American
Indians, and wishes to know if you have seen
Algren looks at Graham, who nods. He may speak.
I have seen many of them, and have fought them,
too. They are very brave.
Graham translates. The Emperor nods and smiles.
Thank... you... very ...much.
He stands. Everyone else hurries to follow suit. The audience is over.
EXT. PALACE GARDEN DAY
A1gren, Graham, and Bagley walk through the palace grounds.
That young pup runs this country?
That "pup" runs the country no more than I do.
He was installed as a figurehead at age twelve
when the warlords realized Japan needed a central
government. But don't be fooled -- he may be a
powerless god, but to these people he's a god
GENERAL YOSHITAKA appears. He is a seasoned soldier in his 40's. A
decent man. He stops before them, bows quickly.
Gentlemen, may I present General Yoshitaka.
He will assist you in training the army.
Algren offers his hand. General Yoshitaka does not take it. He bowl his head and
speaks a few words. Graham translates:
He greets you with extreme courtesy and asks if
you are ready to meet the Imperial Army.
EXT. PARADE GROUND DAY
About a thousand Japanese soldiers in baggy uniforms are milling around a large
parade ground. Each has an old single shot rifle. Algren, Gant, and Yoshitaka
look down on them from a reviewing stand.
Ask the General what training they' ve had.
Graham speaks to General Yoshitaka, then translates his response.
He sa ys... We have trained them not to shoot
their ...asses off.
Algren glances to General Yoshitaka, who looks back wr yl y.
Sergeant Gant, have the men stand to attention.
Imperial Army, Atten-tion!
Graham translates, rather mildly.
For God's sake, let's not keep it a secret who's in
charge here ... Mr. Gant.
ALL RIGHT YOU SLANTY-EYED LITTLE
BASTARDS STAND UP STRAIGHT OR I
WILL SHIT-KICK EVERY ONE OF YOU
As the soldiers immediately stand to attention, we begin a montage of the training
of the first Imperial Army:
We see Gant drilling the men. Shouting at his translator. Trying to get them to march
in formation. Algren is nearby, watching.
August 4,1876. As I watch this new army train,
I cannot help but think of those who rode with
me in me 23rd cavalry.
Algren sits in his tent, writing in his journal. Outside, the Japanese are being taught
the basics of firing tactics.
For four years they had survived, never once
shrinking from the fire. And so, when given my
order to charge the advancing rebel infantry,
they never hesitated. ...And they all died.
We see Algren showing the Japanese how to fire in formation. The old single-shot
rifles they carry make reloading a painfully slow process.
ALGREN (V .O.)
Now I am training another army. In another
Algren and Gant spar with sabers - Algren's expertise far exceeds Gant's, a
fact which Gant accepts with good humor.
Is this why I was spared? Once again to lead
men to their death?
It is sunset Algren, Graham, and General Yoshitaka watch the training.
General Yoshitaka speaks.
... the problem is they're peasants. They have
never had this sort of responsibility or power.
Algren watches Gant march beside the Japanese. They are illuminated by the
majestic red sunset
Ask him if they have a flag.
Graham translates. Genera1 Yoshitaka responds.
They need a flag.
EXT. TOKYO STREET EVENING
Tokyo is a city in chaos. Everything seems out of balance. Dystopic. A
collision of Eastern and Western. Algren and Gant watch as Graham prepares
to take a photograph of an old merchant in front of his store.
... I've been doing this for years. Trying to capture
it before it's all gone. Afraid I'm losing the battle.
Algren silently watches the passers-by. Something draws his attention:
Across the street. a man is striding down the crowded sidewalk. His martial
bearings, two swords, traditional dress and unique top knot of hair instantly
identify him to us as a samurai. .
We will meet him again later, he is UJIO. A terse, grim man in his 40's. His
proud gait and rigid, imperious manner intrigue Algren.
Most of the people on the sidewalk instantly step out of the wa y, bowing in deference. But two young
Japanese in Western dress do not.
Ujio stands before them, waiting for them to move. They don't.
Tense words are exchanged. Ujio glares at them. Algren watches.
Ah... now this should be interesting... He's
waiting for them to show deference.
Across the street, Uji o barks out some harsh commands to the two
Japanese men. They laugh in response. Then one of the men raises a hand
and barks some clearly disrespectful words back--
Like lightning-- Ujio pulls out his long samurai sword - it flashes --
Cleanly beheading the disrespectful Japanese man --
The beheaded corpse begins to fall--
In one smooth motion, Ujio wipes his blade clean of the corpse as it falls
and sweeps it back into its scabbard. The other man immediately drops to
his belly, prostrating himself.
Without another glance, Ujio walks awa y. His face is completely impassive.
What the hell was that?
That...is a samurai.
INT. RESTAURANT NIGHT
Sergeant Gant gazes unhappily at his dinner: glistening raw fish; tepid
beancurds; boiled rice. Algren, Gant, Graham, and General Yoshitaka sit
cross-legged on the floor. Gant finds this extremely uncomfortable.
... Before the edicts ever y citizen had to prostrate
himself in the presence of a samurai.
What edicts are those?
The Council of State has been passing a series
of laws designed to eliminate the samurai.
Because you are here now, Sergeant... For the
last 800 years guarding Japan and fighting her
wars was the exclusive occupation of the samurai.
The next course arrives. Thick, black eel. Gant groans.
Men like Mori Katsumoto were the most elite
caste in Japanese societ y until the Council of
State -- led by your friend Omura - decided the
whole class had to go ...
... Most of the samurai accepted the new laws.
But some didn't. Or couldn't. Like Katsumoto.
General Yoshitaka speaks up. Graham translates:
General Yoshitaka bids you to remember that
the word samurai means "one who serves." Their
whole existence is based on serving their
country as warriors.
Graham finishes translating, then continues on his own:
Your Imperial Army is taking awa y their only
reason for being ... So what are they to do now?
Algren considers this as he pours another cup of sake.
This is sake?
Sake. Rice wine.
Yoshitaka nods. Enthusiastically tries an English word.
Vexing people, the samurai. Blood-thirsty,
honorable, cruel, fabulousl y artistic. Wanted to
write a book about them for years, but no
Westerner can get close enough.
Ask him if he ever saw a samurai in battle.
Graham looks at A1gren.
He is samurai.
Algren looks at Yoshitaka with new eyes.
EXT. TOKYO STREET NIGHT
Later that night.
Algren and Gant, a little drunk by now, wander Tokyo's bustling red light
district. Like Amsterdam, the geishas sit in windows facing the street.
INT. GEISHA HOUSE NIGHT
This is certainly not the whorehouse they expected. Elegant Japanese
furnishings. Lovel y flute music. The MADAM lowers her head and speaks
quietly in greeting.
My friend and I were looking for some
The Madam speaks no English. Gant speaks louder, as if to a deaf person.
Ladies of the evening? Hootchie-contchie?
(tries a bow to the madam)
Gant flashes a fistful of Japanese currency.
Universal language. boyo.
The Madam nods and bows. Almost magically, two beautifully-dressed
GEISHAS appear, their faces are painted pure white.
One of the Geishas smile. Her teeth are blackened, to better set off the
whiteness of her face paint
That one's yours.
INT. GEISHA HOUSE ROOM NIGHT
Algren and Gant are led into an elegant room with paper screens, and a table
set for the Japanese tea ceremony. .
Gant tries to take the arm of one of the geishas - but she moves awa y,
gesturing for him to sit The other begins the tea ceremony.
No tea... Sake.
A musician plays a traditional lute. The geisha begins a graceful fan dance.
Fan dance. Saw this once in Chicago.
Algren smiles at the Geisha preparing the. She smiles back. Algren pours
himself a cup of sake.
The sake bottle is empty. The interminable lute music continues.
Gant is increasingly agitated as the geisha continues her dance. Algren can't
help but laugh at his frustration. Finally Gant has had enough. He rises, a
bit unsteady from the sake.
Okay, darlin' time to get down to business:
He shoos the musician out of the room, then approaches the geisha, who
shrinks from his intention.
Zeb. I don't think she --
She's just shy. Who knows what we white devils
have got in our trousers, eh, darlin'?
He takes her arm. She resists - her voice rising.
Come on, now.
He tries to pull her along. Her kimono tears. She calls out in terror. Two men
appear, bouncers presumably, but alight of build.
The Madam yells angrily at Gant in Japanese. Pushing him out roughly.
Now, hold on there, sister. I paid good money.
One of the bouncers puts his hand, politely, on Gant's arm.
Back off, short-stuff.
This time, the bouncer is more insistent. Gant takes a swing at him. Wrong
move. Before Gant knows what hit him, the little man uses Gant's
momentum in an akido move to flip him to the mat, hard.
Algren can only stare, in awe, at the lethal move. As the second bouncer moves
to confront him, bowing apologetically, Algren speaks in English, smiling,
knowing they can't understand a word he's saying.
Obviousl y you can kick the shit out of people
much larger than you, so we'll be leaving now...
EXT. _PARADE GROUND DAY
The training continues. We see Gant, now sporting a black eye. Algren
walks with General Yoshitaka and Graham. Graham translates:
The General wishes to know if you bad a pleasant
Algren looks at Yoshitaka, who gives him. wry look..
It was... educational
Would the General mind telling me more about
our common enemy?
Yoshitaka looks at him. Has Algren deliberately used the word, "enemy,"
knowing that Yoshitaka, too, is a samurai? Algren gives nothing awa y.
... Mori Katsumoto is an extremely charismatic leader.
To those who honor the old ways, he's a hero. His
force is estimated at about five hundred and growing
by the day. All samurai.
What kind of man is be?
Graham translates. General Yoshitaka considers his words.
Katsumoto has no fear. He has no pity. He is
kotsutai-- the soul of old Japan ... He is my
We grew up together in Yoshino. Marched
together and fought together. He is Kaishaku
the brother of my spirit.
Algren considers this as they observe rifle practice. Erratic but
improving. Algren notes Yoshitaka's reaction. The rifles seem to make
Ask him what kind of guns Katsumoto has.
The samurai don't use guns.
No, ask him what kind of firearms they have.
Graham obliges. Yoshitaka responds, with disdain:
The samurai no longer dishonor themselves by
Algren is surprised at this bit of information. A servant approaches, bows.
Colonel Bagley requires you.
INT. TENT DAY
Colonel Bagley and Algren stand at a map. Omura sits.
They're not a fighting unit yet
We have no choice.
(refers to the map)
--the railroad has been stopped here. Just as it
entered Yoshino, Katsumoto's province.
Captain, we cannot govern a country in which
we cannot tr avel freel y. ... Katsumoto's
provocation is strategic. His defeat will
demonstrate to the other disloyal samurai that
resistance is an act devoid of honor.
The rebels don't have a single rifle. They're
savages with bows and arrows. You get up there
and show 'em how it', done.
With respect, sir, I need more time.
With all due respect. this railroad cannot wait.
He bows and leaves them alone. Bagley spins on A1gren.
You think we're the only country interested in
Japan?! You don't think the Germans and the
French would like to oversee the new army?
Why do you think we're here, Captain? Because
Remington and Colt and Winchester have
powerful allies in Washington. We're here to
sell a shitload of American guns...and steel...and
timber. That shouldn't be bud for a Winchester
whore like you to understand.
Algren looks at him, murderously.
EXT. RUINED VILLAGE DAY
A STEAM ENGINE lends plumes of smoke into the air as it waits. Algren,
Bagley, and General Yoshitaka ride along the railroad line.
The Imperial Army follows, with Sergeant Gant, on foot.
A traditional Japanese village is being torn aside to make room for the railroad
line. Houses are being leveled and black smoke drifts up. The displaced
villagers gather belongings. Omura guards herd them about rather bruta1ly.
Railroad workers are laying a new spur, building a brick station. A1gren notes
the by now familiar Omura symbol on the new water tower and on the
headbands of the guards and workers.
What is that sign?
It's the symbol for the Omura Zaibatsu.
Old family businesses that own ever ything worth
owning. The molt powerful is the Omura
Zaibatsu. That's your friend, Omura.
They own all of this?
They do now.
SEVERED HEADS on pikes line the road, a warning to those who continue
October 24,1876. Today we entered Kansai
province. Here the local warlords have all been
convinced to accept the emperor's rule.
They pass a particularly wrenching sight. Villagers kneeling outside what
used to be a Shinto temple. The railroad tracks cut straight through it.
Our destination is Yoshino, home of the rebel
Katsumoto. Protected by high mountain passes,
it can be reached only during the summer
months, and even then with great difficulty.
The Army moves on. Ahead are towering mountains.
EXT. MOUNTAIN PASS DAY
The Imperial Army winds its way up I steep mountain pass.
A long march. And then a battle. A new enemy,
but the same feeling I had in my guts at twenty-one,
in the cornfield at Antietam -- men will die
here, today, and will I be among them?
EXT. MOUNTAIN PLAIN MORNING
Fog. Obscuring everything.
Algren and Bagley, on horseback, wait with Graham. General Yoshitaka and
a few Japanese Commanders are mounted as well. The thousand strong
Japanese Army is on foot They stand, rifles ready. ,
Ask him how they'll come at us.
Graham speaks to General Yoshitaka. Yoshitaka responds:
They'll come straight on. They will push forward
and keep on attacking... And he adds that there
is no samurai word for "retreat."
Algren prepares himself.
General Yoshitaka is suddenly alert. He speaks quietly to Graham.
He sa ys they're coming...
Algren gazes into the thick fog ahead, sees nothing. Bagley looks worried.
Captain Algren, have you posted a rear guard to
protect our supply train?
Who is overseeing their deployment?
Algren is somewhat confused by the question.
Mr. Graham, you will accompany me to the rear.
I want to be certain we are protected from any
Yes. Of course.
Before Algren can respond, Bagley has left the front lines with Graham in
tow. Gant watches as they head out of harm's wa y. .
Son of a bitch.
(almost to himself)
...I'm going to kill him.
Waste of good ammo.
Gant checks his two revol vers. The methodical clicking of the chambers as
he checks his rounds is the only sound. .
Then absolute silence. A light SNOW begins to fall.
Algren continues to peer into the fog. Nothing.
Then a sound ... distant ... building through the fog...
The steady rumble of horses. Slowl y approaching. Closer and closer...
Algren notes some of the Japanese soldiers are literally shaking in fear.
Algren peers again into the fog. Nothing. But the sound is closer.
Then the sound abruptly stops.
Silence broken only by the murmured prayers of some of the soldiers.
Sergeant Gant, order the troops to assume
staggered firing positions.
Imperial Army, assume staggered firing positions.
His order is translated. The Japanese soldiers prepare to fire, one
row kneeling, the other standing behind them.
One of the Japanese soldiers faints from sheer tension.
Algren can see nothing through the dense fog. The tension is unbearable.
Then a form on horseback... ghostly... like lame sort of medieval
monster. An elaborate, horned helmet. Sweeping samurai armor.
All we can see it the eerie silhouette in the fog.
Like something from a nightmare.
And then another figure... and another ... as 500 mounted samurai warriors
slowl y move into position.
The Japanese troops are terrified
Hold the line ... hold the line...
The order is translated.
A terrible, beautiful moment of absolute stasis.
The Japanese soldiers wait.
The ghostly silhouettes wait.
Then -- as if a silent signal were given -- the samurai suddenly CHARGE,
emerging from the fog in a great wave--! The force of a tsunami.
The silence is shattered as the charging samurai roar out ancient war-
cries that chill the blood -- sweeping forward on their hones like
lightning -swords and spears flashing
The Japanese troops fire then quickly begin trying to reload their single shot
rifles -- others fumble at the ask and then break and run--
Panic and chaos--
Hold the line!
Too late-- the samurai are on them--
They attack with an intensity few have ever seen -- many of the Japanese
soldiers try to escape, turning and running in blind panic -- they are butchered--
run through by the ashigaru, cut inhalf by the naginata.
Those soldiers who laboriousl y try to reload their rifles are quickly
mowed down by ferocious clouds of samurai arrows, fired by mounted
Sound fall back! Sound fall back!
A bugler sounds the order. The Army begins to retreat.
But suddenly they are attacked from behind as well! Arrows shoot from the
fog and more mounted samurai appear.
They are surrounded.
Algren, Gant, and the Japanese Offi cers call out orders but all discipline
soon breaks down -- it is every man for himself--
The battle swirls ever ywhere around us. Fleeing soldiers are run through by
lances, run down and trampled by horses.
Each samurai wears individual, vibrantly col ored armor. Various battle
flags sweep through the fog.
Gant uses his two cavalry revolvers -- firing constantly -- finally out of
ammo he drops from his horse in the cavalry st yle and pulls a Winchester
repeating rifle, crouching and quickly firing--
Algren uses his revol ver first -- firing as he turns on his horse -- when
the revol ver is empty he pulls his cavalry saber. He manages to parry
the lethal blows as the Samurai hurtle past --
But one Samurai, his armor all in black, comes at him on a collision course
and SLAMS INTO HIM, sending both horse and rider to the ground.
Algren scrambles to his feet, his saber nowhere to be found as another
rider heads toward him carrying a lance.
Algren manages to grab it and throw the rider to the ground, wrestling the
lance from his grip and running him through.
In the midst of the battle we notice a peculiar thing. One samurai is just sitting
on his horse. Watching Algren. This samurai wears a BLACK MASK.
The MASKED SAMUARI watches Algren fight.
Algren now wields the lance to battle the horsemen as they sweep past. He
spears one and then unseats another. When a third samurai cuts his lance in
half, Algren uses the remaining half as a club to take him down.
The Masked Samurai continues to watch Algren. Algren's tenacity is amazing.
He continues to fight with heroic passion, refusing to give an inch, long after
Those around him have fled.
Then a blaze of bright yellow a samurai in yellow armor galloping past, firing
arrows steadily from horseback. His control and speed are astounding.
We will come to know him as YORITOMO, a handsome young samurai.
Yoritomo fires arrow upon arrow the speed is breathtaking Two arrows
slam into Gant, knocking him to the ground.
The battle, meanwhile, has become a rout. Those Imperial soldiers who fight
are easily cut down. Those who flee are run down like prey.
Left alone, Algren finds himself confronted by ashigaru samurai foot
soldiers carrying pikes. He turns to discover his retreat cut off by other
samurai wielding katana the lethal long sword.
But rather than give any quarter, Algren launches an attack. He kills one
samurai before he is RUN THROUGH, at the shoulder, by a lance.
In agony, Algren SNAPS OFF the hilt of the lance, leaving its tip buried
deep in his chest, and fights on.
He manages to parry a blow which SLICES into his side. The next blow
takes off a piece of his scalp. Blood fl ows down his faces and into his eyes.
Algren is now surrounded by ten samurai. A man's heroic stand against
certain death is of great interest to them. As they begin to close in, Algren
whirls the lance around, a tattered battle-flag with TIGER INSIGNIA still
dangling from the end.
The MASKED SAMURAI removes his mask. It is the JAPANESE MAN,
whose dream of the tiger we glimpsed at the beginning of the story. His
eyes wide in surprise, he watches his dream come to life--the blue tiger
holding the dogs at bay.
In SLOW MOTION Algren whirls the lance, as one samurai, wearing
BLOOD-RED ARMOR, advances. With a murderous smile, he draws his
Algren seems spent he drops to one knee, swaying, on the brink of losing
But as the RED SAMURAI, lets out a battle cry and propels himself forward for the death blow - Algren
suddenly LEAPS UP and propels the jagged wooden end of the broken lance into the unprotected throat of his
As the samurai falls, the rest of his comrades close in to cut Algren off.
A harsh COMMAND stops them in their tracks.
The Masked Samurai leaps from his horse. Everyone steps aside deferentially
so that be might pass by without being jostled. .
He looks down at Algren, then removes his battle helmet.
And we meet _MORI KATSUMOTO, the leader of the samurai. He it an
imposing man of about Algren's years.
Sensing that he is about to be killed, Algren pulls himself t o his knees, and SWINGS his saber at Katsumoto.
With blinding speed, Katsumoto pulls his katana from its scabbard.
Algren's saber is SNAPPED CLEANLY IN TWO.
Katsumoto looks down at Algren.
Then Gant appears behind Katsumoto -- limping toward him, cocking his
rifle, urgently trying to save Algren--
Ujio, (the Samurai we saw earlier on the streets of Tokyo) leaps to
protect his Lord. His sword flashes--
Gant is eviscerated. Algren watches in horror.
A dreadful beat as Gant stands, pathetically trying to hold his guts in. Then he
sinks to his knees.
Katsumoto turns, leaps back onto his horse and trots off.
Algren finally wrenches himself from under his horse. He crawls to Gant,
blood pouring from his own injured back and shoulder.
Gant is dead.
Algren looks up to see the battle is lost. The Japanese soldiers have fled.
Or are surrendering, injured or dead.
And he sees one other thing. General Yoshitaka is still on his horse,
head down. He has not pulled his sword. He has not been hurt.
Katsumoto rides to Yoshitaka. A few serious words are exchanged. Katsumoto bows his bead in respect, seems
to agree to something.
Both men climb from their horses. General Yoshitaka pulls out a small b1ade and hands it to Katsumoto, who
holds it out firmly.
General Yoshitaka quickly and calmly pulls himself on to the blade, plunging
it into his stomach, embracing Katsumoto.
It is seppuku -- the traditional form of samurai suicide.
Algren watches, stunned.
Then a terrible scream cuts through the battlefield.
Algren sees samurai calmly walking among the injured and captured Imperial
soldiers .. killing them one by one with a single stroke.
Algren looks over the slaughter.
And then passes out, bill wounds overcoming him.
EXT. MOUNTAIN PASS DAY
Algren is unconscious, tied to a horse.
The mounted samurai move up a treacherous mountain pass, disappearing
into the soaring mountains of Yoshino.
EXT. VILLAGE SUNSET
Katsumoto's village is the other Japan. The Japan we have not yet seen.
The gorgeous mountain scenery of Yoshino envelopes the village. Snow-
capped mountains soar in the distance. A valley below with rice fields.
After the turmoil of Tokyo, this place seems a bucolic paradise. Traditional,
wooden Japanese architecture. Farming. The sense of harmony so markedly
absent from the cities.
Algren, barely conscious, hunches over his horse. He has lost a lot of blood.
Katsumoto leads his samurai into the village. As he passes, ever y person in
the village touches his or her forehead to the ground to show respect.
Most of these villagers have never seen a white face and gaze at Algren with
curiosity. And suspicion.
Katsumoto dismounts in a large square, the rest of his men follow suit. A samurai
helps Algren painfully slide from his horse.
Katsumoto moves to the steps of the largest house. His officers fall
into formation around him. Algren notes Ujio - the grim samurai who killed
Gant -- in jet black armor, glaring at him coldl y.
Ujio walks forward and SCREAMS at Algren in Japanese. Algren doesn't
move. This only makes Ujio more angry. He paces back and forth like a
caged panther spitting invective at Algren.
Algren doesn't move. He watches Uji o evenly. This takes incredible will.
His wounds are so bad that- he can barely stand.
SUDDENLY - Ujio draws his long sword -- it slashes through the air - the
blade singing -- and stops an inch away from Algren's face!
Algren doesn't move.
Ujio brings the cutting edge' into contact with Algren's check. Blood runs
where even this feather-light touch cuts Algren's skin. Algren doesn't move.
Ujio glares at him. Then sheathes his sword and walks away.
Katsumoto looks at Algren deepl y, gauging him. Then be speaks. In English.
Algren is surprised.
You cannot escape. We are deep in the mountains
and winter is coming.
Katsumoto turns and walks into his house. Uji o follows him. Algren collapses.
Fade to black.
As Algren begins his time at the heart of the samurai world.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE NIGHT
Algren'. eyes open...
A WOMAN is leaning close, her eyes intent on the task of sewing up his
wound. She is beautiful, but he is not really conscious enough to notice, or
even feel the pain. He blacks out again.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE NIGHT
Algren wakes again. He is lying on a simple mat. His injuries are such that
he can barely move his head. He takes in the traditional Japanese furnishings.
A red ball rolls across the floor. And after it... TOSHIIE, a little boy. around
four. The boy l ooks at Algren. offers him the ball. Smiles.
A1gren blacks out...
INT YORITOMO'S HOUSE ANOTHER DAY
Algren's eyes open...
Through the archway he can see Toshiie and his older brother HIGEN, around
ten. Also the beautiful WOMAN who earlier was stitching his wound.
From his recumbent position, Algren watches as she ministers to the boys,
who are dearly her sons. Algren is fascinated by her grace and the sweet
attention she gives them.
She seems to sense him. Her eyes raise, meet bit. She speaks to someone,
and YORITOMO appears. He is twenty-one, too young to be the woman's
husband. Yoritomo comes into Algren's room. Speaks to him.
Algren shakes his head. Doesn't understand
Yoritomo speaks to the woman, who approaches and places bowl of soup
in front of Algren. He ignores it
The boys stand in the doorwa y. Yoritomo shoos them awa y.
Algren glances up at the: woman. Her eyes avoid his, her expression is opaque.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE ANOTHER DAY
Algren now sits in the main room. The woman is changing the dressing on
his wounded right shoulder and arm.
Yoritomo kneels across from Algren. He is impressed at the many battle
wounds on Algren's body; the old bullet wounds and scars. In Japanese, he
indicates his admiration.
Algren his no idea what Yoritomo is saying. Finally he interrupts with the
only Japanese word he has bothered to learn:
Yoritomo's face breaks into a wide smile.
Yoritomo glances to the woman. She nods, and brings A1gren a saucer of
sake. He drinks it down. Holds out the saucer for a refill
Smiling, Yoritomo indicates for the woman to comply, but before she can
pour another saucer, Algren takes the jug out of her other hand. Yoritomo
laughs as Algren drinks it down.
EXT. VILLAGE NIGHT
Autumn leaves fall to the ground. In a tiny hut, the village swordsmith begins
work on a samurai blade.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE NIGHT
Algren writhes on his mat. Trapped in his recurrent nightmare.
A sudden flash:
The wagonload of the dead. Davey's bl oody corpse closes in on Algren
Back in the house
Yoritomo and the woman are asleep in separate rooms.
A piercing SCREAM shatters the night
EXT. VILLAGE FOLLOWING
The screaming continues. Lamps are lit around the village...
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE FOLLOWING
Yoritomo and the woman hurry to Algren's room --
Algren in the throes of his recurring nightmare - awakens, disoriented.
Yoritomo and the woman confer. Yoritomo looks It Algren and shakes his
Yoritomo refuses -- Algren roars and tries to rise. Laughing at Algren's
ferocit y in his weakened condition, Yoritomo easily pushes him back down.
Algren folds in on himself, rocking like a feral animal.
EXT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE NIGHT
Katsumoto stands outside the house, drawn by the commotion. Ujio stands
with him, shaking his bead.
My lord, why do you spare the barbarian? He is
shamed in defeat, be should kill himse1f.
The barbarian doesn't know hit shame.
Then I will kill him.
(pats him; subtitles)
Ujio-San, he will still be shamed tomorrow or in
a month. For now there are things I wish to learn.
EXT. VILLAGE DAY
A glimpse of village life -- fish are hung on lines to dry, children chase each
Other, clothes are washed in the river, and in the rice fields below, farmers
squat as they have for thousands of years. In his hut, the swordsmith
continues to hammer and fold the blade.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE NIGHT
Algren sits hunched in a dark corner. His body is convulsed with shivering.
His withdrawal from alcohol, his wounds, his isolation and his imagined sins
are devouring him. .
Then we see he is not alone. The woman stands in the doorway, watching
him closel y. Finally she enters with a bowl of soup.
He glances up, something like panic in his eyes.
She kneels and attempts to hand him the soup, but be knocks it out of the
wa y and grabs her by the throat.
She stares at him, the breath being squeezed out of her, but there is not even
a whisper of fear in her eyes. She is utterly impassive. Shaken, he lets her
go, and crumples to the floor. .
(mumbling to himself)
The woman leaves the soup and wa1ks away.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE DAYS LATER
Daylight streams in, finding Algren lying on his back. The worst of the detox
is past. As be lies there, these first moments of repose lead to:
A sudden flash of memory:
The beautiful blond WOMAN from the picture laughs merrily, and falls
back languorousl y in a grassy fi eld.
Back in the room
Algren shakes off the memory as harsh SOUNDS from outside draw him to
the window. .
EXT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE MORNING
Algren watches from the window as the samurai train. It is like nothing else
in the world. Part sacred ritual, part martial preparation, samurai training
com bines athletic prowess and graceful artistry into one effortless whole.
Finally well enough to walk, Algren comes out onto the porch to watch the
spectacle. In front of him, is a Kendo (The Way of the Sword) master
practice with their long and short swords. They have incredible control.
NAKAO, a mountain of a man, is a Karate master. He stands unarmed,
four samurai facing him. They attack with wooden swords. He effortlessly
defeats them -- the agility of the huge man is shocking.
Kyudo ("The Way of the Bow") masters use their bows for target practice.
Yoritomo holds a bundle of arrows. In the distance, a line of plums.
Algren watches. Yoritomo just seems to stand there, his eyes hall-open.
And then -- in a stunning blaze of movement -- Yoritomo fires the arrows --
one after another, amazingly fast -- cleanly hitting each plum. The final arrow
splits the previous one as it buries itself in the tree.
A wooden sword leans against the porch.
Algren idly picks it up, feeling its balance. In a flash, Uji o has raced over and
grabbed it from him. Algren stands motionless as Ujio screams at him.
The training stops, as everyone watches Uji o berate Algren.
Even as Ujio continues screaming. Algren simply shakes his head, turns
awa y, and walk back into the house.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE DAY
As the sounds of training resume outside, Algren explores the house.
He comes upon Higen and Toshiie playing with the red ball. They are
embarrassed to encounter him alone. There's a moment of suspension, and
then Higen throws the ball to Algren.
Algren looks back and forth between the two boys, fixes his gaze on Higen
but throw the ball to Toshiie, causing both boys to laugh and run awa y.
Algren walks on.
INT. SMALL ROOM DAY
Algren opens a sliding shojii screen and discovers a small room that has been
made into a kind of shrine.
Cand1es and incense burn, a small Buddha sits on a dais, and Algren's eyes
are drawn to what seems like an apparition standing in the corner.
The BRIGHT RED ARMOR of the warrior Algren killed in the fog, is held
upright by an unseen stand. It is almost as if the dead warrior himself is
swing back at him.
Algren senses someone behind him and turns. The woman is standing across
the hall. Their eyes meet. She turn, and walks away.
EXT. VILLAGE NIGHT
A first, light snowfall has covered the ground. A1gren walks out into the still
night. He turns a corner and confronts curious sight:
Ten warriors kneel, motionless in the snow, their eyes closed in concentration.
As Algren puzzles over this, he becomes aware that Katsumoto is now
standing next to him.
They are training.
Their minds. It is called bushido...
Algren looks at him. He has never heard the word.
The wa y of the warrior. We study from when
we are young. Are my words correct?
Algren does not respond.
I will practice my Eng1ish with you.
Why do you learn English?
To know m y enemy.
If I am your enemy, why have you not killed
Katsumoto doesn't answer.
Was General Yoshitaka your enemy?
No, I honor his memory as my kinsman.
That why you helped him kill himself?
If a samurai is defeated in battle, he must take
his own life to spare himse1f the shame of capture.
It is required that his kaishaku his trusted friend,
help him. I was honored to by his kaishaku.
Hell of an honor.
It was his destiny. He knew it, he died at peace.
Who was the warrior in the red armor?
My son-in-law. His name was Hiroshi.
And the woman who cares for me?
My daughter, Hiroshi's wife. Her name is Taka.
Algren is incredulous.
I killed her husband?
It was an honorable death.
Katsumoto walks awa y.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE DAY
Algren it now well enough to kneel at the table with the others. Taka treats
him with utter politeness and dignity. He watches her intently, seeking any
sign of the animosity he's certain she must feel.
She hands him a bowl of rice.
You hope I choke on it, don't you?
She bows, uncomprehending.
You want to poison it and watch me fall over
the table and foam at the mouth.
Yoritomo bows in response to Algren's new willingness to communicate.
(to Taka, subtitles)
I promise I'll make him take a bath.
.EXT. VILLAGE -- BATHING TUB DAY
Yoritomo leads Algren to a large, wooden bathing tub in I secluded part of
the village. A banked fire smolders beneath it.
Embarrassed, Yoritomo indicates to Algren that be needs to bathe. Algren
strips off his filthy uniform then lowers himself into the steaming water.
Yoritomo begins taking off hit own kimono. A1gren is taken aback. Used to
Western privacy, he is a bit disquieted about bathing with another man.
Yoritomo, unconcerned, climbs into the tub. He chats pleasantly as they
bathe, showing off his old battle wounds.
Algren's discomfort turns to outright alarm when a toothless old grandmother
appears. .She happily strips and joins them in the tub!
Algren sinks a little lower into the water. The old grandmother smiles at
him with her toothless grin.
EXT. VILLAGE DAY
Algren. feeling self-conscious in the clean kimono he's wearing for the first
time, walks back with Yoritomo. Kids start walking with them, pointing at
his Japanese garb, laughing as he stumbles in his wooden clogs. They pass
by Ujio training a group of samurai using wooden kendo swords.
Nearby, Higen and Toshiie are imitating the grown-ups, sparring with wooden
swords that are much too big for them. Yoritomo watches his nephews proudly,
murmuring details of their prowess to Algren, who has no idea what he's talking
Higen charges his little brother, but goes careening past, right toward Algren,
who deftl y dodges out of the wa y. This causes gales of laughter from the
boys, one of whom takes Toshiie's sword and offers it to Algren.
Algren looks at the sword in his hand and unthinkingly twirls if with a f1ourish --
causing the boys to applaud. Yoritomo bows, and encourages A1gren in
Higen's direction. Algren shakes his head politely, but Higen is already on
Algren dodges one thrust, then parries another, as the boys begin to cheer.
Suddenly, ever yone goes silent. Algren turns.
Ujio is standing behind him, arms folded.
Ujio barks a command in Japanese. He wants Algren to drop the sword.
It is obvious to Algren what it must mean, but he does nothing.
Ujio approaches Algren slowl y. Algren holds the wooden sword casually,
only his eyes betraying the tension of the moment.
Ujio's wooden sword FLASHES, quicker than the eye can follow. Algren's
sword is knocked from his hands, then, somehow in the same fluid
movement, Ujio brings the sword around and cracks Algren across the
chest hard enough to knock the breath from his body and lend him to his
Satisfied with himself, Uji o starts to walk away, but the expressions of the
bystanders cause him to turn back: .
Algren is standing again, and again holding the sword.
With grim purpose, Uji o returns to Algren, who has assumed a ready pose.
Again Ujio's SWORD FLASHES. Algren manages to parry one blow, before
he is cracked across the face, and blood begins to flow free1y from his nose.
Ujio knocks Algren's legs out from under him, and while Algren is sprawling
on the ground, Ujio kicks Algren's sword out of his hand, and starts away.
Again, Algren manages to stand up, and before Ujio can turn, charges him.
But Uji o doesn't need to turn. In a sliding move, he dodges and cracks Algren
in the side, then the legs, then the neck. Gasping for breath, at least one rib broken,
Algren writhes on the ground. Ujio digs the point of his sword into
Algren's hand until he releases his grip. Again Ujio kicks the sword away.
The ever-enlarging crowd gasps as Algren once again struggles to his feet.
This time without hesitation, Uji o runs back and rains blows upon Algren's
now defenseless body. First the wrist, then the back, then the stomach, then
finally the head.
Algren hits the ground, unconscious, his fingers still clutching the sword.
Ujio reaches down, pries it from his fingers, and breaks it across his knee.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE EVENING
Algren lies painfully on a mat, his eyes unfocused.
A sudden flash of memory:
The lovel y blond woman, tears in her eyes, looks up to Algren's shining face,
the epaulets on his crisp officer's, uniform gleaming gold in the sun.
The reverie is broken.
As Taka kneels to swab the cuts on his face. He stares at her darkly.
Who are you people anywa y?
She makes no attempt to understand or respond.
You have no God, you have no mercy, you don't
even have any fucking walls. Your walls are
made of paper, what's the matter with you?
She pushes his head aside so she can attend to his neck.
This man tries to kill me and I've done nothing
to him, and you, I kill your husband and you act
like, what? Like I'm a guest in your house.
What is wrong with you?
This last said so intensely that she glances at him before picking up a bowl
of soup she had brought for him, and bringing it to his lips...
Do you have a soul at all?
He stares at her for a moment, then knocks the soup out of her blinds.
Her eyes FLASH for one moment, before resuming their usual mildness.
But that flash is enough to satisfy him, and he calms down. She walks away.
He sighs, exhausted, only to see her approach again with a new bowl. Their
eyes meet, and hold for a moment. She does have a soul. He takes a sip.
INT. SHINTO SHRINE DAY
Algren is led past baldheaded monks into an ancient shrine. Katsumoto
kneels before a small altar. He doesn't seem aware that Algren is present.
Ujio is teaching you the wa y of the Japanese sword.
Is that what he's doing?
At what age did you become I soldier?
To fight in your American civil war.
Tell me about that war'.
What about it?
Everything about the civil war?
Katsumoto sits impassively, staring at the altar.
That would take a year.
You have pressing business elsewhere?
Shaking his head, Algren sits down.
The civil war began on April 12. 1861 when the
rebs attacked Fort Sumter. Well, actually, it
probabl y began three years earlier when the
Supreme Court decided a runaway slave had to
be returned to his master
The TWO OF THEM, hours later--
--and Pickett says he wants to do it, over
Longstreet's objections and Lee doesn't know
what to think, but he lets him. So 15,000 men
go up that hill. And most of them die.
Was that wise?
No, it was stupid.
The point of a battle is to win, or at least have
enough men survive to fight another day.
You did not try to survive when we took you
Algren eyes him, frustrated.
What do you want from me?
What do you want for yourself?
You know they're not going to ransom me.
We have little use for money.
Then what are you doing, why are you asking me
these questions, what is going on here?
The snows will melt in May, and the passes will
open, and the events of the world will unfold.
Until that time, you are here.
I enjoyed this conversation in your English. I
hope you will honor me with more tomorrow.
Katsumoto stands, bows, and leaves.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE DAY
Young Toshiie sits near Algren. He labors over a scroll with a brush, the
gentle brush strokes are hypnotic as they sweep across the rice paper.
Algren tries to indicate that he would like pen and paper for himself. Toshiie
gives him what he asks. Algren begins to write:
Day unknown, month unknown, 1876. I continue
to live among these strange people.
EXT. VILLAGE DAY
Katsumoto watches Ujio bark orders to the men he is training. A sudden
Movement of their eyes, causes Uji o to stop. He turns to find:
Algren standing at the end of the line, holding I wooden sword.
An almost imperceptible look passes bet ween Ujio and Katsumoto, but Ujio's
Resentment is over-ruled. Without a word, he continues.
Algren does his best to follow the exercise.
Katsumoto, the slightest hint of a smile on his face, walks away.
Each day I am confounded by their strange customs
and contradictions, savagery followed by
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE NIGHT
Algren now kneels at the table with the rest of the family as they eat. He is
in considerable pain from the rigors of training. He tries to roll the stiffness
out of his neck, when be notices that Higen it imitating him. Toshiie laughs.
They seem to value nothing more than their
families, and yet they kill defenseless wounded
men without a shade of remorse..
Yoritomo sternly tells Higen not to make fun of their guest. Yoritomo
apologizes to Algren, who shakes his head unnecessary.
. Raisu? [Rice?]
They stop, shocked. He has spoken!
Yoritomo calls for Taka to serve him more rice, then begins yammering
enthusiastically in Japanese. Algren holds up his hand.
Not so fast Ko...toba? [Words?]
(bolds up chopsticks)
What is this?
Yoritomo is hysterical with glee now.
The boys are suddenly dervishes, pulling various objects from the table and around the room, shouting the
Japanese words for each.
Algren shakes his head, and smiles for the first time in this stor y.
Yoritomo manages to quiet the boys. He points to himself.
(points to himself)
Algren nods, and the boys start screaming "All-gren!"
(points to each in rum)
Higen. Toshiie. Taka.
(turns to Taka)
She meets his eyes for the slightest moment, then looks down and walks away.
INT. KATSUMOTO'S HOUSE NIGHT
Katsumoto is arranging flowers. Algren watches in confusion, as this
powerful lord goes about doing something so feminine and delicate. Finally:
The parliament of your country has two houses.
Why is that?
To keep either one from being too powerful.
Does not a people need a powerful ruler to
We believe the opposite.
Katsumoto thinks about this.
I have a question. How do you come to speak
Members of the Council were required to study
............ it. ........Yes, I was a member of the government.
I helped restore the Emperor to the throne.
So that Japan could have a powerful ruler to
Katsumoto understands Algren's irony, but doesn't smile.
And now you must hate him for what he's done.
He is my blood. I serve him with my life.
By fighting his army?
Katsumoto looks at A1gren.
I do not fight the emperor. I fight those who
seek to influence him, those who betray the soul
of my country.
He slowl y draws his long samurai sword, and places it next to the flowers on the table in front of him.
The Emperor gave this blade to my ancestors
400 years ago. It has been used only to defend his
Katsumoto hands the sword to Algren. Algren studies it.
It takes many years to make a sword. It is a holy
Act. A samurai's sword is his soul.
This sword is flawed. What is this uneven line
near the edge?
Katsumoto smiles at Algren's ignorance.
One man is flexible and compromises too much
to avoid conflict. Another man is so fierce he
wins ever y battle, but so rigid he can never know
peace. A man who knows both is the perfect
warrior. The lame is true of a blade .. one steel
bends, and the other cuts. And where they
meet is never perfect Hold the blade up. .
Algren holds the sword, cutting edge up. Katsumoto takes a silk cloth and drops it. It gently billows down -- and
splits evenly on the edge.
Some believe a blade is thirsty until it tastes the
blood of its enemy.
Algren hands the sword back. Suddenly, Katsumoto swings the sword, cleanly splitting the table in two.
The crew at Winchester can produce one rifle ever y
We gave up firearms two hundred years ago. It
takes no courage to kill. A man from half a mile
awa y. You must look into the eyes of your enemy
to know who you have killed.
I'm not sure an artillery officer would agree.
I think all killing's a filthy business.
TO Taking a man's life is
nothing. It is his honor you
can never take awa y.
In other words you have no respect for human life.
What do you know of human life? You come here to kill for
money Where is your family? Where is your wife, your sons?
What is your legacy?
And what is yours? To rebel against the future? I fought the
South in our civil war. Their leaders believed they were fighting
for "honor" just as you do. And their people died by the thousands!
Katsumoto simply looks at him.
And my wife is dead.
They look at each other. Some unexpected recognition has taken place.
Tomorrow we will discuss your country's wish for
dominance in the..."Far East."
...I look forward to it.
Algren turns to go.
EXT.VILLAGE SQUARE DAY
We see the village swordsmith at work. He has been forging the same long samurai blade for months... Algren
watches him as he works.
March 9. 1877. I have never known such a disciplined
EXT. VILLAGE DAY
Algren trains with the other men. He attempts an attack, which is easily brushed aside by Nakao. Algren ends
up in the dirt again.
From the moment they wake, they devote themselves
to the perfection of whatever they pursue--
Algren walking with Katsumoto -- they are deep in conversation.
And yet the more time I spend here, the less I understand them.
EXT. VILLAGE DAY
Two women are bowing repeatedly, chattering in smiling, earnest argument.
Everyone is polite, every nuance of behavior seems to
have a great meaning, and increasingly I am convinced
that the lower they bow, the leas they mean it.
EXT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE
Algren, holding the wooden sword in 1870'5 baseball manner, is coaxing Higen to throw the ball at him. The
children laugh as Algren hits it onto the next porch.
Taka watches her sons impassively. It is dear how much they like Algren.
And I am sure they regard my wa ys to be as confounding
and unfathomable as I find theirs.
AN ICE CRYSTAL ON THE END OF A BRANCH
Starts to drip. SPRING bas begun.
BXT. VILLAGE DAY
Villagers laugh as they go about the business of life. A man throws a sack of rice to another. Two women hurry
awa y from a farmer who is teasing them.
Algren is once again among the training warriors. He and another man face off, each waiting for the other to
attack with his wooden sword.
Algren moves first, but his opponent counters, and strikes him easily. They wheel around and engage again,
and again Algren is bested. Furious, he throws himself at his opponent, reverting to classic saber technique.
In a flurry of movement, his opponent manages to deflect the blows and also knock Algren to his knees.
Yoritomo approaches and bows.
A1gren -San. Please forgive. Too many mind.
(pointing as he explains)
Mind sword, mind face, mind people watch, too many mind.
(on Algren's confused expression)
Hai! No mind. You try.
Algren nods, uncertainly, and picks himself up. Again he faces the opponent, shaking off the tension and trying
to stay calm.
This time the opponent charges first, and Algren manages to parry one blow, before he is again bested.
Yoritomo bows happily and begins yammering in Japanese, clearly taking credit for Algren's progress.
Across the square, Katsumoto watches.
EXT. IMPERIAL PALACE GARDEN DAY
The cherry blossoms have emerged, creating a scene of intense col or, beauty,
and serenity. The Emperor sits cross-legged next to a shrine. He is approached by Omura and two other
Your majest y, beg permission to approach.
(the Emperor nods)
Your humble servants are most anxious to know if his
Majest y has signed the order regarding the railroad progress.
(after a long moment)
I am most impressed at the wa y the blossoms float
upon the air, as if held by unseen hands.
Yes, they represent the highest form of gyoko.
About the order, your Majest y.
This railroad must go through Yoshino Province?
It is absolutely necessar y your Highness.
If you sa y so, I shall sign.
EXT. VILLAGE DAY
Algren walks through the village, past the swordsmith who is now honing the blade, carefully sharpening it.
.EXT. CHERRY TREE FOREST DAY
Algren makes his way through a stunning cherry forest near the village. The pink and red blossoms are dazzling
and abundant. Other villagers can be seen gathering cherry bl ossoms.
It is a place of otherworldly beaut y.
It is all so beautiful that Algren just stops. Takes it in for a moment. He reaches out and touches a blossom.
A perfect blossom is a rare thing...
Algren turns. Katsumoto is kneeling nearby, meditating.
You could spend your life looking for one.
And it would not be a wasted life.
Were you praying?
Just sitting... I do not think I have the word.
Satori it means, maybe, awareness.
This moment alone, apart from all others ... You
(Algren shakes his head)
I am writing a poem about this time we hive spent.
I have only written one line on "His eyes were like my
own but seen through a deep and troubled ocean."
Can you suggest a second line?
I'm not much of a writer.
Is this why you spend so much time with your journal?
How do you know that?
She told you.
Katsumoto appraises Algren.
Did you love her husband as your own son?
You have sent men to their deaths, just as I have.
The difference is, you feel nothing.
Before you were a soldier, you were a farmer.
What does that have to do with anything?
You lived on a farm. Or in a forest of trees.
How do you know?
The wa y you look at the cherry blossoms.
We lived in a place called Connecticut. My...brother
and I climbed the maple trees.
Were they beautiful?
And you were sad to see them die in the winter.
A beat. Something flickers in Algren's eyes.
You were something before you were a soldier. You
were a boy who was sad to see the leaves fall and the
Katsumoto looks at him deepl y.
Like those trees, we are all dying. The future is
an illusion, our plans are an illusion, our fears an illusion.
We live life in every breath. Eat, drink, fuck. Now. Every cup
of tea. Every word we write... Every blossom we hold.
He smiles sadly.
Every life we take.
A beat. He stands, takes in the beautiful cherry orchard.
Life in every breath. That is bushido. The wa y of the
He goes. Algren stands for a moment deep in thought
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE NIGHT
Algren is asleep. And then we note that the ground is vibrating .. he slides
across his mat .- wakes with a start
An unholy rumbling-
Algren bolts up ... just as a paper wall rips open, the wooden framework to the room splits
and the roof collapses--
An earthquake. Common for this part of Japan.
EXT. VILLAGE NIGHT
Yoritomo appears. He and Algren crawl out of the house just as the ground lurches
Part of the house contorts and caves in
Around the village, the wooden frame houses are swa ying and lurching they have some
torque, but not enough
Ujio directs the villagers as they battle a fire-
Taka appears, calling frantically for Toshiie.
Then an even larger seismic tremor suddenly TEARS THROUGH THE
Houses are ripped apart -- the whole world shifting.
Though the smoke, Algren sees Toshiie cowering under an eave
A heavy ceiling beam breaks loose, threatens to crush Toshiie
Algren dives forward, grabs Toshiie and pulls him out of the wa y... the front
of the house collapses, the beams smashing to the ground..
Taka and Higen race to Algren and Toshiie. The boy is safe.
Taka grabs the child and cradles him. Her look to Algren is fierce, protective,
almost feral -- as if he were the threat instead of the rescuer.
EXT. VILLAGE DAY
Algren watches the villagers rebuild. Yoritomo and Higen strugg1e with a large
I am str uck by these people and their acceptance of Fate
in a1l it s variations. At a time like this, they seem utterly
without sentiment. Even the children have a gravity
beyond their years.
Algren goes to them. Silently begins to help them.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE DAYS LATER
Algren works with Yoritomo, binding the wooden framework. Higen prepares
the paper walls nearby. He does this with considerable skill.
Taka is getting water from a rain barrel she observes Algren helping
rebuild her home. Yoritomo is working nearby.
Algren's Japanese is rough but improving:
(in Japanese, subtitles)
Would last longer ... if stone.
No. House fall. House go back easy with wood.
Algren shakes his head. Taka appears with cups of water. Algren looks at her
For the first rime, she holds his gaze.
EXT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE EVENING
Torches illuminate a small stage in the center of the village square. Several
samurai perform a ritualistic Noh drama. (A form which, by the wa y, the
samurai invented.) Others play flutes and large steel drums.
And yet I have never seen a people with more capacity
for the joy found in the simplest things of life.
Katsumoto himself plays the lead role. An enthusiastic actor, he plays to the children in
the audience. They are delighted with his broad theatrics.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE
Taka is carrying in a huge lack of rice. Algren goes to help her.
He carries the rice for her into the pantry area.
Japanese men do not help with this.
She looks at him, a little surprised.
I am not Japanese.
In spite of herself, she smiles a little. There is an awkward moment.
1... didn't know he was your husband.
He did his duty. You did your duty.
And you do yours.
They look at each other for a long moment. She starts to move, but he stops
her. They are close enough to smell each other's hair, to feel the warmth of
the other's breath. She looks up at him, pleading with her eyes not to take this any further.
He lets her go.
EXT. VILLAGE DAY
Algren stands across from Ujio, ready again for the ken-jutso.
They stand frozen for a long time, hands on the hilts of their wooden swords.
Other samurai watch.
Algren and Ujio stare at each other.
But there is something different about Algren's expression. Not as much
fury and competition, more a sense of balance and alertness. He studies Ujio's eyes, his hands,
the folds of his kimono, the attitude of his body.
We watch A1gren closel y.
Gradually all SOUND drains away. We hear only Algren's steady breathing. He is
aware of everything. A bird in a tree. A woman grinding rice. A plum about to fall.
A gently swa ying battle flag,
Algren attacks -- no fury, just control-- Ujio tries to deflect the blow, Algren
anticipates - he swings his sword elegantly - -Ujio blocks it -- Algren counters --
Algren presses forward, his sword slashing masterfully, forcing Ujio back
Ujio counters with complex moves as he retreats --Algren keeps moving
forward, calm -- finally Ujio's sword is swept aside in one clean
movement. Algren ends with the edge of his wooden sword It Ujio's throat.
The other samurai watch. Amazed.
Algren twirls his sword in a fancy cavalry "fl ourish." The pride he has alwa ys taken in his
swordsmanship has been restored. He bows to Uji o.
Ujio nods his head, slightly, in respect
The other samurai, led by the hearty Nakao, congratulate Algren.
EXT. MEADOW DAY
Algren carries water from the river through a riot of spring wild-flowers. Something
makes him stop, and see the sunlit clouds in the deep blue sky, the colors around him, hear the
buzzing of the bees, feel the kill of the air.
A sudden flash of memory
His beautiful wife, in green field not unlike this one, laughing, tossing her hair, falling
back into the long grass.
Back to Algren
The force of the memory causes him to link to the ground.
Another flash of memory, longer this time:
His wi fe leans over and kisses his mouth, and his cheek, and his forehead. He holds
her al tightly as be can.
Back to Algren
As tears begin to course down his face, and he sinks down into the flowers and the grass,
looking up into the impossibl y beautiful sky. He gives in to the sobs wracking his body.
EXT. VILLAGE DAY
As Algren returns with the water, he sees Katsumoto approaching with Ujio and several warriors.
The Emperor has requested my presence.
We leave tomorrow. You will be released in Tokyo.
He goes. Algren stands, not sure how to react.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE NIGHT
Algren writes on parchment by the light of an oil lamp.
April 13, 1877. Tomorrow we return to
civilization. As eager as I am to be among my
own kind, I confess to a curious reluctance.
EXT. KATDUMOTO'S VILLAGE DAWN
Algren stands overlooking the village as the sun rises over the misty peaks.
These months have marked me, and I don't fully
know yet wh y.
EXT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE DAY
Algren prepares to mount up. Yoritomo says goodbye to his family.
I do know it is here that I have known my first
untroubled sleep in many years.
Taka comes to Algren, bows her head.
You are alwa ys welcome in our home.
He glances at the unfinished house.
...You will finish it soon.
If that is my destiny.
She bows her head again. Toshiie hands him a scroll: it is a picture of the
Family. Algren is included. Japanese characters list all their names.
Toshiie bows. Algren bows and tucks the scroll into his coat.
Algren and Yoritomo move out with Katsumoto, Ujio, Nakao and his bodyguard of several
The villagers bow and honor the warrior as they pass.
EXT. MOUNTAINOUS LANDSCAPE DAY
Algren trots alongside Katsumoto.
... The Emperor sends a message for you to return
to Tokyo, and you go?
Even though you're in rebellion against him.
Against the Emperor? Never. I serve him. As
I have alwa ys done. .
I don't understand.
Our Emperor is young, and there are things I must
sa y to him.
But ever yone around him wants you dead.
And if the Emperor desires, I will take my own life at his
He spurs his horse and rides on. A1gren watches him.
EXT. MOUNTAIN VALLEY SUNSET
They approach a large inn.
A boy working in the fields see Katsumoto approaching. He doesn't believe
it -- the Great Katsumoto. He drops his hoe and races awa y, calling out.
We will stop here for the night.
EXT. MOUNTAIN VALLEY SUNSET
Samurai guards have been posted around the perimeter.
INT. KATSUMOTO'S RQOM NIGHT
Algren is escorted in. Katsumoto kneels at a table. Preparing the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Algren sits. By now he has learned how to sit on the ground. Katsumoto begins the exacting, delicate and
precise tea ceremony.
Do you drink tea?
I've had little else for some time...
Katsumoto continues with the tea ceremony.
How's your poem coming?
I am having trouble. The truth is I am not a very
Do you know wh y you were sent here? To
To protect the railroad.
Why is the railroad here?
So Tokyo can control the whole country.
You have seen my province. All mountains.
Far from Tokyo. Yet the rail line must come
Katsumoto tosses a tiny bit of coal on the simmering brazier on the table. Algren watches carefully.
You have something they want
What do they want in my mountains?
Minerals ... Gold.
There is no gold in Japan.
Katsumoto gently blows on the coal brazier. The coal flares a bit.
(Katsumoto looks at him)
And why would steamships be so important?
Katsumoto looks up at him. Impressed.
Japan has nothing. China has ever ything.
Mine the coal to create a way station for the trip to
China ... Freeze the Europeans out and Japan and
America have a monopol y on the China trade.
Add to this the Omura Zaibatsu. You know the
The wealthy families.
As patron of the railroad, Omura owns all land within
four hundred feet of ever y new rail line. As my country
grows, so will his wealth.
(looks at him)
This is why you are fighting.
Katsumoto completes the tea ceremony. He pours a cup for Algren. Bows his head and offers it to him.
And you will tell the emperor to stop them?
I do not tell the emperor what to do.
Then what do you hope to accomplish?
Katsumoto looks at Algren, the slightest gleam in his eye.
Will you return to America?
Algren watches him -- why didn't Katsumoto answer?
...I have a job here.
You should return to your home.
Because I do not wish you to be m y enemy again.
Katsumoto returns to his poem, he does not look up.
Go home Captain ... Anshinritsumai. I wish you peace.
Algren waits but Katsumoto just continues to work on his poem.
EXT. AROUND THE INN NIGHT
The samurai guards are alert, their senses heightened to almost superhuman proportions.
But there is another way. Another way of learning combat. A wa y without the
beaut y, the philosophy and the moral code.
They are almost imperceptible at first... their head-to-toe black clothes a perfect
camouflage... their silence and stealth are otherworldly.
They were then known as Shinobi, masters of stealth and spying.
We know them as Ninjas.
They float across the ground ... creeping an inch ever y hour... complete
physica1 control. One black-gloved finger moves. Then the next...
They crawl and then wait
Poised on their fingertips and toes.
There is no sound as they strike.
The samurai guards are garroted in an instant. Other Ninjas catch the
samurai's weapons as they fall. No sound disturbs the peaceful night.
EXT. INN -- FRONT DOORWAY NIGHT
Two samurai guards are in position.
One of them glances up at the stars.
A Ninja throwing star instantly slices into his jugular-- blood sprays -- the other
guard turns a series of Ninja slice into him...
EXT. INN--WALLS NIGHT
The Ninjas use mew claws to crawl up the walls like spiders.
EXT. INN ROOF NIGHT
A samurai guard stands at the edge of the roof. A Ninja silently moves
toward him. Stops. Ten feet awa y.
He pulls out a shuriken -- a small needle-shaped projectile, dips it into a sack of
poison. Places it carefully into the palm of his hand. And with the flick of his
The needle flies -- stabbing into the samurai -- he crumples.
Other Ninjas immediately pour over the edge of the roof -- catching the samurai before he falls...
INT. INN -- KATSUMOTO'S ROOM NIGHT
Katsumoto cannot sleep. He stares out the window at a nightingale.
INT. INN--UJIO'S ROOM NIGHT
Ujio sits in his room. He is unblinking. Alert. Swords at the ready.
INT. INN ALGREN'S ROOM NIGHT
Algren cannot sleep either. He sits leaning against a wall. Thinking.
INT. INN -- MAIN HALL NIGHT
Yoritomo drinks tea with Nakao, the huge martial arts master.
INT. OUTSIDE KATSUMOTO'S ROOM NIGHT
A guard stands sentinel. Above his head, unbeknownst to him, two Ninjas descend on ropes.
One of them swings a long chain - to which I barbed-knife is attached.
As it lodges in the guard's chest, the second Ninja swings down just in time to catch the dead guard,
silently, before his body hits the ground.
INT. INN -- KATSUMQTO'S ROOM NIGHT
Katsumoto lies in bed listening to the night bird. It stops singing. Katsumoto smiles sadly. He
decides to give up on sleep, leans forward to rise.
This act saves his life.
For when the Ninjas come, they come all at once--
A Ninja suddenly comes TEARING STRAIGHT THROUGH THE PAPER WALL, his sword
slashing down .- just missing Katsumoto.
Katsumoto calls out an alarm, diving and rolling across the floor for his sword. He instantly
kills one Ninja using his steel-tipped "war fan" to slash his attackers throat. Another smashes
in through the window.
INT. INN -- MAIN H ALL NIGHT
Ninjas EXPLODE into the main hall. Samurai who come out of their rooms are cut down by a
variety of weapons -- one takes a throwing star in the face, others are felled by the traditional
ninja-to, short swords ideal for fighting in confined spaces, chain-knives, nun-chaka and others.
More Ninjas drop from the rafters on ropes.
INT. INN -- ALGREN'S ROOM NIGHT
A Ninja SMASHES through the paper wall -- Algren grabs the nearest object, a low tea table.
and swings it at his head. The Ninja dodges the blow and slices at Algren with short-sword.
Algren barely avoids the blow by ducking behind a post as the sword LODGES
deep in the wood. Algren flings himself, bodily, at his attacker.
INT. INN-- MAIN HALL NIGHT
Ninja throwing stars spin across the room, killing a samurai.
Yoritomo emerges from his room, readying his bow, but the dead samurai falls back
blocking his wa y. From behind the rice wall, Yoritomo lets fly an arrow without even
It passes THROUGH the wall, killing the Ninja on the opposite balcony.
INT. INN-- FIRST FLOOR NIGHT
Ujio screams a war cry and begins to battle his way up the stairs. With breathtaking moves, he slashes
hands and limbs, forcing the Ninja back.
Nakao fights his wa y up beside him, desperately trying to reach Katsumoto's room. Using
only his bare hands he catches a Ninja's wrist and hurls him over the railing.
INT. INN -- ALGREN'S ROOM NIGHT
Algren and the Ninja are in a death struggle, kneeing, gouging, butting. They awkwardly smash
through a paper wall into the next room.
INT. INN -- KATSUMOTO'S ROOM NIGHT
Katsumoto wields his long sword in one hand and his short sword in the other. It is the first time
we have seen him in action and his movements are both beautiful and deadly.
But more Ninjas are pouring in through the window, threatening to overwhelm him.
INT. INN -- ALGREN'S ROOM NIGHT
Rolling on the ground, Algren manages to grab a chopstick and STAB his adversary through the eye.
He picks up the fallen short sword and steps out into the hall.
ARROWS whiz past, thudding into the wall beside his head.
INT. INN-- KATSUMOTO'S ROOM NIGHT
Katsumoto, breathing heavily, his kimono shredded and bloody, is fending off the Ninjas' increasingly
savage attacks as Algren enters.
Algren SCREAMS, distracting them just long enough for Katsumoto to take advantage and kill one.
Then, just as a Ninja it about to kill Algren, Katsumoto FLINGS his short sword ... it pin-wheels across the
room, hitting Algren's attacker in the chest.
Without missing a beat, Algren pulls the short sword from the dying Ninja's chest and uses it to stab
another Ninja who, thinking Algren defenseless, has launched an attack.
INT. INN -- MAIN HALL NIGHT
Ujio and Nakao are back to back, a perfect fighting machine as they fight their wa y to
Katsumoto's rescue. They battle Ninjas wielding lethal kusarigamas, the Ninjas swing chains,
the attached blades slice the air--Nakao catches the chains and flinging the Ninja
over the balcony.
INT. YORITOMO'S ROOM NIGHT
Yoritomo is pinned down. Darts and throwing stars shred the rice paper wall above him. He
picks off another Ninja before changing his position.
INT. INN-- KATSUMOTO'S ROOM NIGHT
The blazing sword battle continues.
Algren throws a beautiful painted standing-screen in front of an attacking Ninja,
momentarily confusing him. Then he stabs THROUGH THE SCREEN -as a blood-
stain SPREADS across the pastoral painting.
But another Ninja catches Algren off-guard and slices at him with his short sword. As
Algren lifts his sword to parry the blow, HIS LITILE FINGER IS CHOPPED OFF.
He drops the sword, momentarily defenseless.
Across the hallway
Yoritomo has been watching the shadowpla y on the rice-paper walls.
Algren's attacker raises his blade to deliver the death blow.
In Katsumoto's room
Algren flinches involuntarily beneath the raised blade. Suddenly the Ninja JACKKNIFES
as if punched by an unseen hand. As he spins, dead, to the ground, we SEE an ARROW
lodged bet ween his shoulder blades. Yoritomo has FIRED blindly, through the wall
killing Algren's attacker.
Nearby, a Ninja hurls a throwing star at Katsumoto. With blind instinct Katsumoto
turns and takes the blade in the meat of his arm.
Algren, meanwhile, has ripped the sleeve of his kimono into a tourniquet for his maimed hand.
He uses the rest of the fabric TO TIE HIS HAND TO HIS SWORD before launching himself
back into the fray -- slicing an attacker just as he is about to impale Katsumoto.
Together, he and Katsumoto force the last two Ninjas through a paper wall to the next room.
They fight all the wa y through that room and BLAST through another paper wall to the next.
INT. INN STAIRWAY NIGHT
The battle continues unabated on the stairs -- the Ninjas spring for position with
incredible grace --perching and fighting on banisters, leaping from one level to the next.
It is a mayhem of flashing swords and flailing limbs and flyi ng arrows and spinning Ninja stars.
Sprays of blood splatter against the white rice paper walls.
Some of the fighting is less than elegant. Men bite and wrestle and gouge to
survive in close quarters.
All of them arc bloody and sweat y and dirty and tired, heaving for breath, their skin flayed
open, their kimonos ripped, their hands and arms and faces blood-stained.
But more samurai reinforcements follow Ujio up the stairs: Together with Yoritomo
and Nakao, they have begun to gain the upper hand.
Ujio flings both his swords through the air -- killing two Ninjas -- and dives to
fight others - his martial arts skills are dazzling.
Algren and Katsumoto are fighting sidc by side
And we cut to --
EXT. INN NIGHT
Outside of the inn, we slowl y pull away...
The sounds of the battle gradually fade...
Soon it is nothing more than a lovel y rustic inn nestled in the mountains.
INT. INN STAIRWAY NIGHT
Later. The battle is over.
Ninja and samurai corpses litter the inn.
We slowl y move up the long stairwa y from the bottom...
Yoritomo pulls a Ninja star from Nakao's_shou1der. Then one from his own.
We move up another level, past more bodies...
Ujio moves through the Ninjas. Making sure they are dead. Before sheathing
his sword, he angrily FLICKS it at the rice paper wall, spattering it with the bloody spray.
Katsumoto wipes his sword on a nearby corpse, replaces it in its sheath. He sits beside
Algren on a stair. Both men are exhausted. Bloodied. Alive.
A long beat as we watch the two warriors.
Slow fade to...
EXT. TOKYO -- IMPERIAL PALACE DAY
Algren, Katsumoto and the others are nearing the palace. Algren slows to a
stop -- his path is toward the city. Katsumoto stops, looks at him, then does
something absolutel y extraordinary.
He kneels and bows before Algren. Quickly touching his head to the dirt.
Then he rises, turns and walks toward the palace.
Algren stands, stunned.
EXT. PARADE GROUND DAY
Algren walks onto the parade ground. The change he sees could not be more remarkable.
Thousands of new Japanese troops are drilling with new bolt-action Mausers. They
are precise, exact and frighteningly mechanistic, their uniforms new and crisp.
New German advisors are barking commands. Colonel Bagley sees him.
Algren? My God, you never cease to astonish.
Bagley runs over, hand extended, but Algren turns to look at the troops.
They have new weapons.
The Kaiser was only too happy to help. Along
with his friends at Mauser and Krupp. Thank God we
Americans still have a few teeth in our head.
And they come to the "teeth." Howitzer cannons. A row of them. Artillery
officers in US Army uniforms arc instructing Japanese offi cers.
The ambassador and I have spent eight months
kissing Omura's ass so he'll sign the damn trade
pact with us. You spent all this time living with
(A1gren looks at him)
He's going to want to talk to you...
I need a bath.
And your back pay, I imagine.
Algren starts walking away.
They got their flag. ...See?
And we see it... snapping on I flagpole high above the parade ground.
It is immediately familiar. A red circle on a white field. The Rising Sun.
The Howitzers fire in sequence. Thundering blasts that shake the heavens.
EXT, ROYAL TEMPLE DAY
Omura stands above Emperor Meiji respectful but persistent.
The Emperor is kneeling, tending to his iris garden. It is one of the wonders of the Palace: a
sea of white, pink, blue, and purple blossoms.
Retainers and servants stand at a distance. One holds a standard with the Imperial seal: a yellow
Omura sees Katsumoto making his way toward them. He talks a bit more quickly to the Emperor.
Katsumoto begins to prostrate himself before the Emperor, the usual sign of extreme
respect -- but the Emperor stops him:
No, Mori-san. We arc "civilized" now.
Katsumoto stops prostrating himself. The Emperor offers his hand.
I cannot touch the Sacred One.
It is a difficult moment for Katsumoto. He simply cannot do It.
Did you have a pleasant journey, Minister Katsumoto?
It was uneventful.
Omura appreciates Katsumoto's droll response. He assumes that Katsumoto is aware of
his part in the assassination attempt.
If it is not a great imposition. I desire a moment alone with
Minister Katsumoto. Omura-San.
Enlightened One, perhaps I can be of service in a conversation
So kind of you, but I fear my old teacher wishes to upbraid
me in private for neglecting my studies.
Omura bows his head quickly and goes.
Silence. The Emperor gazes at Katsumoto. Then:
You rise against me, my teacher.
No, Highness, I rise against your enemies.
They are my teacher, my advisers, like you.
They advise in their own interest.
The world is changing, Mori -- you have not seen what
goes on beyond our borders, the inventions, the science.
I need men who can look outward, or soon we will be
left behind, and defenseless.
I am sworn to defend you even to my last breath.
The samurai live in the past. You cannot defend against
a future you don't understand.
If I am no use, then I will happily end my life,
No, Mori. It is my wish that you rejoin the Council of State.
I need your voice.
It is your voice that needs to be heard, Highness. You
are a living God, you can do what ever you
think is right.
The young emperor is silent a moment.
I am a living God only as long as I do what they
think is right.
Your Highness, may I beg forgiveness for saying
what a teacher must, that such a statement is pathetic
drivel not worthy of an ignorant stable boy, let alone
a young man I know to have some modest intelligence.
The emperor laughs warmly, almost happy to be scolded as he once was.
Is it possible a living God can be too afraid to make
his voice heard?
(Katsumoto's look is not unkind)
Tell me what to do, Mori-San?
You are emperor, my Lord, not me. You must find
the wisdom for all of us.
EXT. YOKOHAMA WHARF DAY
A series of warehouses, beyond which we see warships in the harbor. A1gren walks
with Bagley and two other OFFICERS.
INT. WAREHOUSE DAY
The cavernous warehouse piled high with huge crates.
As soon as they sign the agreement, they're obligated
to buy the entire weapons package, from Colt revol vers
to Ha1liwell twelve-pounders. Plus this particular item
you might recognize.
A few stevedores tear open one of the crates. Algren hides his astonishment:
A Gatling Gun is revealed.
They've been calibrated to fire 200 rounds a minute,
The new copper cartridges cut down on jamming.
Algren closes his eyes, trying to keep his memories at bay.
EXT. TOKYO STREETS DAY
Algren fights the crowds with Colonel Bagley And Ambassador Swanbeck..
May 15, 1877. The city I return to is immeasurabl y
New construction ever ywhere. Telegraph wires strung next to an ancient
temple. A modern European hotel is going up, dwarfing the traditional Japanese
buildings. Huge billboards advertising Western goods. A new invention, the rickshaw,
has replaced many of the palanquins.
As though Tokyo were determined to become
another New York or Chicago .- all in one
Spider's web of telegraph cables spread from a tall new brick building.
It is like a New York office building stabbing into the heart of old
The familiar Omura character is emblazoned on the side.
.INT. OFFICES OF THE OMURA ZAIBATSU DAY
Aside from the occasional bit of Japanese decor, this could be a buzzing Wall Street firm.
Telegraph operators click away. Accountants use adding machines. Secretaries
use pneumatic tubes to send documents back and forth. Engineers plot out
railway lines. All are dressed in Western clothes.
Algren, Colonel Bagley, and Ambassador Swanbeck enter.
If he asks, you can talk about ordnance and tactics.
But remember, this has to do with a lot more than
An anteroom holds waiting delegations from the various European powers.
A babel of language. ... French ...Dutch ...Russian ...German.
A pretty American secretary looks up from her desk.
Ambassador Swanbeck, if you'll follow me.
Some of the delegates arc craning forward, watching Algren and the others hungrily
as they head into the final office.
INT. OMURA'S OFFICE DAY
Omura stands like an industrial titan before large picture windows offering a dramatic view of Tokyo.
The only decoration in the room is an enormous Caravaggio.
Please, sit down, gentlemen.
Omura removes a gold cigarette case and lights up. Cigarettes are the newest Western fad
(re: cigarette case)
A gift from Czar Alexander... Captain Algren,. it seems
you have endured your captivity with little ill-effect.
He's an extraordinary man, isn't he?
He is samurai.
Omura gazes at him. Slowl y takes I puff from his cigarette.
Mr. Omura, my people have been drawing up the documents
we discussed. I have a draft--
We're not quite ready to announce the treaty, Ambassador.
The Emperor is...sentimental. Katsumoto was his old mentor--
he is not eager to offend him. It will take I few more days.
AMBASSJ\DOR SW ANBECK
How many da ys is " a few?"
I assure you the Samurai will not stand in the
wa y of our agreement. You are prepared to make deliver y?
Soon as your emperor signs on the dotted line.
Captain Algren you are the expert. Will this array of
ordnance be sufficient?
Depends on what you're trying to accomplish.
I want my country to take its place as a modern power.
Then they will set you well on your way.
I am pleased.
AMDASSADOR SW ANBECK
Mr. Omura, you assured us you had the influence
with your emperor to make this deal come to
pass. With all due respect perhaps there is someone
else we should be speaking to.
With all due respect, Ambassador, perhaps there is
someone else we should be speaking to, for instance the
French. Or the English. Or any of the legations waiting
in the next room.
Ambassador Swan beck stands swallowing his rage.
Yes, we1l, we look forward to hearing from you.
Good afternoon, gentlemen.
They start to go.
Captain Algren, perhaps you can stay a moment
And tell me of your experiences in our rebellious
Bagley looks at Algren. Do as he asks. He leaves A1gren alone with Omura.
Omura lights his cigarette. A moment as he takes Algren's measure.
You fought bravely on behalf of our army--
against the rebel Katsumoto.
Algren says nothing. .
And yet you helped save his life when attacked
by the Ninja.
My role was much less significant than you may have heard.
Tell me about your role in Katsumoto's plans.
I have none.
And your sympathies?
Again, I have none.
I know you have little sympathy for Colonel Bagley.
He is.... unsympathetic.
I thought it was we who are inscrutable.
Now it is Algren who smiles.
You have gained important knowledge of Katsumoto's
province, his army, and his rebellion. This is extremely
valuable to me.
He watches Algren to see how this lands.
You also possess significant knowledge of m y army, my
weaponry, and my plans. This is extremely va1uable to
Again, you flatter me.
No. I am a businessman. I recognize what is valuable.
And I buy it.
(looks at him)
In this case, I value your loyalt y.
Algren considers the implications of what Omura is saying.
I didn't know loyalt y was something that could be sold.
Then perhaps you will give it, as a token of future
friendship - for which, as a friend, I would be in your debt.
Then I will consider it.
And I will be grateful.
INT. SHIPPING OFFICE DAY
Algren is in a shipping office. A clerk consults his schedule of departure.
All righteee, the ANDREW JACKSON leaves tomorrow
if you want a steamship you'll have to wait six weeks.
(Algren is silent)
Gets ya to Frisco by the 28th. 14 dollars for a
private cabin, 8 for a shared or 3 for a lower berth.
What can I put you down for?
Algren is silent, concentrating on a calendar hanging behind the clerk. It
features a beautiful Hiroshigi watercolor of mountains.
(after a moment)
EXT. TOKYO STREET DAY
Graham walks with Algren.
Leave? Wh y would you leave now? No white
man has ever been in your position. Do you
have any idea what it will mean to have Omura
as your friend? You want land, you want women,
you want boys?
Algren starts to walk faster, but Graham Stops him.
Nathan. I wanted to leave, too. For three years.
You must believe me there is a majest y about
these people -- can you imagine what your own
country would be if it had half the drive and the
discipline and the belief and the bravery of these
ridiculous little people?
Then raised voices from across the street stop them.
They see Yoritomo surrounded by four Imperial Army soldiers. The soldiers
are rough and imperious, drunk with power. They carry gleaming rifle..
The soldiers bark orders. Yoritomo stands proudly, responding calmly.
Whit is this?
My God, it's the edicts...
Algren arrives as the situation is clearly growing volatile - the soldiers are
pointing to Yoritomo's head, screaming
Algren steps toward the soldiers--
One of the soldiers SCREAMS at him -- raises his rifle -- all the soldiers raise their rifles
Yoritomo reaches for his sword -- Algren tries to push through -
One of the soldiers smacks Algren in the chin with a rifle butt. Algren reels,
and by the time he stands straight again, four others are pointing their
ba yonets at his face.
Graham takes hold of Algren's arm.
Don't be stupid.
Algren makes eye contact with Yoritomo, who -- in deference to his friend --
puts his sword away.
The Japanese soldiers continue to scream at Yoritomo. They force him to his knees.
Rifles pressed to his head.
Yoritomo bows his bead, speaking quietly, as if praying.
Algren witches in horror all one of the soldiers removes his bayonet -- another grab.
Yoritomo's hair, jerks his head back and begins hacking off Yoritomo's traditional top-knot
of hair. Brutally. Blood.
Yoritomo remains kneeling, head down, blood flowing down his face.
The soldiers laugh and move off.
Algren kneels by Yoritomo. Yoritomo looks up at him. There are tears in
EXT. KATSUMOTO'S HOUSE DUSK
Katsumoto's house on the outskirts of Tokyo is spacious and
harmonious. Utterly Japanese. Samurai guards in full regalia, stand
INT. KATSUMOTO'S HOUSE DUSK
Ujio kneels with Yoritomo, dressing the wounds on his head.
Graham sits across the room talking quietly to the mammoth Nakao, taking
notes in a small notebook. Nakao has been brutally shorn of his top knot
as well. His shame is apparent.
INT. KATSUMOTO'S CHAMBER DUSK
Servants he1p dress Katsumoto in his exacting samurai wardrobe as Algren is ushered in.
Captain, I had not thought to see you again.
I'm leaving tomorrow. But before I go I need to
tell you what's going on here.
You mean the Gatling Guns and the howitzers,
is that how you sa y it?
They're about to close a trade agreement that
will bring this country more weapons than
you can imagine.
Yes, if the emperor agrees - but Omura knows
the Emperor must be convinced there is cause to
need those weapons before be will sign.
And you are to be the cause...
Elegant, isn't it? Omura passes laws sure to cause
a samurai revolt, creating a need for the weapons.
The Emperor sees that the weapons are needed
so he agrees to the entire treaty, giving your
country what it wants and the Omura Zaibatsu
what it wants. And my country is sold to yours.
As Katsumoto dresses, Algren notes that Katsumoto's body it at battleground
of old scars, so like his own.
Today the Council passed two edicts. The first called for
the elimination of our traditional topknots.
The second banned the wearing of sword.
Algren stops. He knows what swords mean to the samurai.
(re: his swords)
Hand them to me, will you?
Algren picks up Katsumoto's two swords. Looks at him deeply.
If you do this, they will kill you.
I am hard to kill.
You don't know what their weapons can do. All
your men butchered ... Just for pride.
Not for pride. For the emperor.
But the emperor is the one signing the agreement.
He has not signed it yet.
He holds out Katsumoto's two samurai swords.
Is it worth it? ... just for these,
I cannot live without my soul ... Can you?
They regard each other.
EXT. OUTSIDE KATSUMOTO'S HOUSE NIGHT
Algren leaves Katsumoto's gate and sets off on foot.
EXT. TOKYO STREETS NIGHT
As Algren walks, he becomes aware that he is being followed. Two dark figures
lurk some distance behind him. After a few moments, he whips around to face
them. They stand for a moment, then melt away into the shadows.
INT. COUNCIL OF STATE CHAMBER NIGHT
The Council of State meets in an august chamber. Many of the Council
members wear Western clothes. Cigarette smoke billows.
The young Emperor sits on a dais off to the side, as befits his
ceremonial role in the proceedings.
Omura is speaking ... be stops ... looking at something ... all the Council members turn ... and gape.
Katsumoto strides into the chamber, his swords proudly displayed.
Minister Katsumoto, you honor us.
It is my honor to join again the men who are leading
Japan into her glorious future.
You arc perhaps unaware of this Council's edict
regarding the wearing of swords?
I read ever y edict with singular attention.
Yet you would bring weapons into this chamber?
This chamber was protected by m y sword for four hundred
We need no protection... We are a nation of laws now.
(calm, subtitled) .
We are a nation of whores. Selling ourselves to our Western
Katsumoto slowl y looks around at the Members of the Council, but his words are addressed
to the Emperor.
Does Japan no longer need its patriots?
Omura speaks with quiet conviction and honesty.
Who is the patriot? The man who would keep his
country trapped in the past, or the man who would help
his people into the future?
A future with no honor,
Honor means less to me than feeding our children. And
teaching them. And giving them modern medicine so
they will live. .
And lining your own pockets in the process.
They stare at one another with barely concealed hostility.
Minister Katsumoto, it is with great regret that I ask
you to remove your sword, as this body has declared
in its edict.
Katsumoto's hand closes on his sword hilt
This sword serves the emperor, and only he can
command me to remove it.
Katsumoto looks to the Emperor, as murmurs fill the room.
Ah, but it is our tradition that the Emperor's voice is
too pure and great to be heard in such worldly
circumstance as the Council of State.
One last time, Katsumoto meets the Emperor's eye.
Then, with great regret, I must refuse to give up my
Omura looks to his associates, and a silent decision is made.
Minister Katsumoto, I must invite you to
accompany our soldiers to Himeji Castle, where
you will be our honored guest. I think you will
find the surroundings there quite harmonious.
Guards with Mauser rifles move into position around Katsumoto. He turns to
the other Council members. Looks at them.
Brothers ... One day you will know what you have done
and feel what I never will ... shame.
Omura nods to the guards. The guards lead Katsumoto out.
EXT. LIVING QUARTERS AFTERNOON
A BEARER is loading the last of Algren's luggage on the back of a rickshaw.
Algren emerges from the building, sees the same two disreputable MEN
who followed him earlier lurking nearby.
He resists the temptation to confront them. Instead he climbs into the
rickshaw and it starts off.
But a moment later, Graham has jogged alongside, huffing and puffing.
Thought I'd missed you. Were you going to leave
without even saying goodbye?
I have a fear of sentimental Englishmen.
(trying to keep up)
Christ, give us. . second here
Algren indicates for the bearer to stop. Graham tries to catch his breath.
You're making a mistake, I promise you.
Katsumoto's under house arrest, Omura's made
his move -- he'll need you more than ever --
Graham stops, sees the look on Algren's face, realizes.
Oh, my goodness. How silly of me.. All that
time you were with him, up in those mountains,
.................................. ...I told you they were a remarkable people...
Algren doesn't answer, but isn't denying it either.
Then you should get out. Because Omura will
become rather impatient with anyone who isn't on the team.
Graham notices Algren staring at his followers.
Case in point.
Who are they?
Ronin would be m y guess. Disgraced samurai
doing odd jobs for his Nibs.
What do they want from me?
To make sure you're on the side of God and
Country, or to make sure you get the hell out.
You've been a great help, Graham. I thank you.
Look who's getting sentimental now.
A look bet ween them, then Algren nods for the bearer to continue.
EXT. HARBOR SUNSET
Algren stands at the gangplank. Porters wait with his luggage. Algren looks
back into the crowd and sees the ronin. They glare back, no longer trying to
keep out of sight.
A BLAST from the steam whistle.
Algren looks from the ship, to the ronin, to the bustling, chaotic city behind
them. Finally, he looks out at the harbor and the ocean, beyond which
used to lie his home.
He turns to the bearer.
Take back to quarters. I walk.
And Algren starts back into the city.
EXT. TOKYO STREETS EVENING
Down a shadowy street, lit only by t orches. Slowl y we realize he is being
followed and that he knows it.
Up ahead, the street appears to dead-end.
The two Ronin step out from the shadows and face him, their hands on
Behind him, Another dangerous looking Ronin joins the one who has been
They begin to close in.
Algren stands completely still. They grow closer.
Algren appears to close his eyes. And the sound of the approaching footsteps
fades as We HEAR ONLY the sound of his breathing.
The Ronin draw their swords.
Algren gently opens his eyes. Ever ything has SLOWED DOWN: a sign in
the breeze, a piece of rubbish on the street, the flame of a nearby torch.
A BLUR OF MOTION.
Everything happens so fast it is hard to tell just what has taken place. In the
strobing shadows, all we really know is that Algren has leapt to the attack.
Within seconds, four bodies lie in the street
Algren holds bloody sword.
His face is cut and a sleeve of his jacket is ripped, but other than that he is
unharmed. Ujio has taught him welt
As he stands, catching his breath, we HOLD on his face in CLOSE-UP.
A sudden flash:
We see Algren grab one of the torches and smash it across the ronin's face.
It is the attack replayed in real-time.
Rolling to avoid a death-blow, he grabs the fallen man's sword and eviscerates attacker #2.
The two remaining Ronin strike.
He parries the blow of attacker #3, whirls to slice the legs of attacker #4,
whirls again to cut off the hand of attacker #1, who has returned to the attack.
Meanwhile, attacker #3 serums and charges -- just lit attacker #4 is trying to stand.
Algren steps back as attacker #3 impales attacker #4. Algren steps forward and cuts off the head of attacker #3.
Even now, it has happened too fast to be truly appreciated.
BACK TO THE STREET
We move, closer-still on Algren's face.
A sudden flash:
And so we watch the attack again. in super-slow motion now, so we can fully
appreciate it's terrible beauty.
A torch smashes across a face.
A sword slices the sleeve of a coat.
Sparks fly as two swords meet.
A severed hand falls in the dirt.
Blood sprays from a decapitated head.
A sword is wiped clean.
BACK TO THE STREET
In real time, Algren kneels to examine one of the dead Ronin. On his arm is
tattooed a familiar emblem:
The sign of the Omura Zaibatsu
EXT. OMURA CASTLE NIGHT
Omura lives in a huge medieval castle on a promontory directly above Tokyo
Ba y. A testament to Japan's martial past.
INT. CASTLE TOWER NIGHT
Two guards arc: standing at attention in a dank corridor high in one of the
towers of the castle. Cell doors line the corridor.
Katsumoto's samurai swords lean against the wall next to them.
INT. CASTLE CELL NIGHT
Katsumoto kneels in a cramped cell. A sound draws his attention. He rises
and looks out a barred window.
Bel ow he sees two rickshaws moving up the twisting road to the castle.
INT. RICKSHAW NIGHT
Algren and Bagley, in formal dress uniforms, sit in one of the rickshaws.
Bagley looks him over.
Oughtta shave more often, Algren. Becomes you.
Thought I would follow the Japanese fashion.
...Heard you were leaving, actually?
Why would I do that? Omura wants me to train his
Certainly seems obsessed by you. Why do you
think that is?
Could it be my nose isn't permanently lodged up
Bagley shakes his bead, turns away. Algren stares up at the looming aide.
EXT. CASTLE- MAIN GATES NIGHT
The two rickshaws stop by the heavily-guarded main gates. Guards check the occupants. Motion
to other guards atop the gates.
The main gates slowl y swing open.
EXT. CASTLE - COURT YARD NIGHT
The bearers lower the rickshaws. Algren and Bagley climb from one.
Ambassador Swanbeck climbs from the other.
EXT. CASTLE -- RECEPTION CHAMBE R NIGHT
Omura waits in elegant evening clothes. A woman plays a harp. The interior
of Omura's castle is heavy, oppressive. Old Masters paintings dot the walls.
Leather-bound boob. Chippendale furniture.
Omura, you have a lovel y home. It must be very old.
Nothing is "old" in Japan, ever ything is "ancient."
... But the views are pleasant. Sit down...
They move to chairs by the roaring fireplace as Omura turns to Algren,
noticing the cut on his face, but saying nothing.
Do you know your Wagner, Captain? This is
the 'Leibestod' from Tristan and Isolde.
I'm surprised you enjoy it. Literally translated it
means `love/death. '
(looks at him) .
A samurai concept, don't you think?
The two men take each other's measures. Servants appear with trays..
Champagne? And cigars, of course.
Servants light their cigars.
A gift from President Grant?
Mr. Omura, may I use the necessit y?
Omura summons a servant. The servant escorts Algren out.
Now, Mr. Swanbeck, regarding our agreement, I noticed
a discrepancy in paragraph seven in reference to the
investment protocols for coal.
INT. CASTLE CORRIDOR NIGHT
The servant leads Algren through a corridor, head bowed.
Then, stil1 puffing on his cigar, Algren taps the servant on the back, and as
the man turns, decks him. The servant falls.
Algren flicks hit cigar out onto the sloping roof. We FOLLOW the
BURNING EMBER as it rolls off the roof and lands at the feet of TWO
EXT. CASTLE COURTYARD NIGHT
The guards look up, trying to determine where the cigar butt has come from.
But their curiosity lasts only a moment: ARROWS pierce their necks,
strangling any sound.
We REVERSE to discover that one of the rickshaw-bearers has fired the
arrows. As he peels back his hood, we SEE it is Yoritomo.
We realize the other bearers are Ujio, Nakao, and Simon Graham. They
hurry past the dead guards and up the stairs.
INT. CASTLE APPROACH NIGHT
The three samurai and Graham race up the winding parapets.
Three GUARDS round a corner. Swords flash as Ujio and Nakao dispatch
them without even slowing. They race on, Graham laboring to keep up.
INT. CASTLE KEEP NIGHT
Algren rounds a corner--
Ujio, Yoritomo, Nakao, and Graham are moving toward him.
This wa y...
Clearly, this has all been Algren's plan. They move up a stairwa y.
INT. CASTLE KEEP (SECOND FLOOR) NIGHT
The three guards are still standing at attention outside Katsumoto's cell.
His swords are next to them.
Algren keeps the others out of sight and lowers his head to whisper with
Ujio. Ujio nods, then walks into sight and calmly approaches the guards.
Still hidden, Algren gestures for the others remain to silent. After a
moment, he gestures that they can proceed.
Algren and the others round the comer to discover the bloody remains of
the three guards - whom Ujio has dispatched in absolute silence. They unlock
INT. CASTLE CELL FOLLOWING
Katsumoto is shocked to see Algren enter. Algren tosses him his swords.
How's the poem coming?
The ending is proving difficult.
INT. CASTLE -- RECEPTION CHAMBER NIGHT
Omura glances up from the documents.
What has become of Captain Algren?
INT. CASTLE CORRIDOR NIGHT
Algren, Katsumoto, and the others race through an upper corridor.
Who is this?
Name's Simon Graham. Wants to write a book
An honor. I have followed your activities with
great interest. I think the European public
would be fascinated by a book about your
Not a book. A play!
Suddenly, from below, the raised voices of guards. They hurry a wa y.
INT. CASTLE STAIRS NIGHT
Guards carrying pikes race up the stairs--
INT. CASTLE CORRIDOR NIGHT
Algren and the others are moving swiftl y down a stone corridor.
The sound of the approaching guards is growing louder.
A silent WILD BUNCH moment of preparation as they stride down the
corridor, five abreast.
Algren pulls the cavalry saber from his dress uniform. Katsumoto prepares
his swords. Nakao stretches his huge arms. Yoritomo and Uji o draw their bows.
EXT. CASTLE - UPPER COURTYARD FOLLOWING
Ten guards with rifles patrol the upper battlements.
Yoritomo and Uji o crouch and fire. Arrow a fter arrow a fter arrow, as
fast as a repeating rifle, the arrows streak through the night.
It is a dazzling display. They time shots to sail over walls, shoot through
tiny windows, shoot out torches. Multiple arrows. Perfect aim.
In a matter of seconds all ten guards are dead.
They continue across the courtyard, up some steps --
INT. CASTLE--TIGHT CORRIDOR FOLLOWING
They stride through a tight, dark stone corridor.
Suddenly, a cadre of Omura guards emerge from the shadows.
Without hesitation, they launch into battle. Algren and Katsumoto wield
their swords. Yoritomo and Ujio fire arrows.
Nakao fights with his hands, dramatic martial arts from the huge man.
But this corridor is just too tight -- it is a sea of combat.. the guards and
our warriors are slammed together --the swords and pikes sending up sparks
in the darkness as they strike the stone walls.
The right corridor echoes with samurai war cries and clanging swords.
More guards appear.
These guards have rifles.
Rifle blasts thunder --startling strobe-like bursts of light in the darkness --
Algren dives in front of Katsumoto to protect him-
Yoritomo is hit-
He jerks back -- blood--
Ujio fires arrows at the guards with rifles, hitting two -- but more guards with rifles are appearing, bullets
sending showers of debris and ricochets--
Algren sees a stairway leading to a higher 1evel, barks out a command. As Nakao drags
Yoritomo toward the stairs-- the others bolt a heavy SIEGE DOOR
designed to keep attackers at bay.
INT. CASTLE SIEGE ROOM NIGHT
Ujio fires arrows through the siege ports -- momentarily delaying the guards
as Algren leads them toward a rear stairs.
INT. REAR STAIRS NIGHT
Algren starts down -- only to discover MORE GUARDS blocking this means
of escape. He backs out of the wa y just in time as rifle blasts SPLINTER
the wooden stairwe11.
Meanwhile, an EXPLOSION from behind them indicates that the guards
have blown the siege door.
Algren, Graham, and Ujio have no choice but to continue upwards into the
castle keep. Nakao helps the wounded Yoritomo as they climb.
INT. UPPER KEEP NIGHT
A narrow ladder leads to the final redoubt. They start to climb but Yoritomo
leans against the wall. He is gravely wounded.
You go, Algren-san. I will stop them.
Yoritomo's determination is absolute. Finally, Algren nods.
Katsumoto moves to Yoritomo, leans in for a few final words, taking his
head and pressing his forehead to Yoritomo's.
Bullets begin ricocheting around them -- Yoritomo looks to Algren:
Tell my family.
Algren bows his bead in respect.
Then Algren leads them up the stairs. Ujio fires a final volley, nods with
respect to Yoritomo, then follows the others.
Yoritomo pulls himself erect. Draws his two samurai swords.
A beat. He closes his eyes. Smiles.
Then he opens his eyes and hurls himself down the stairs--
The guards fire hitting Yoritomo - but still he comes -- wading into them
swords flashing -- he is hit again and again -- but still he comes.
It is a glorious death.
EXT. SIEGE ROOM NIGHT
Algren leads them into the highest room of the castle, the siege room. The
echoes Yoritomo's death rings in their ears. .
Katsumoto glances at Ujio and Nakao. Without a word, they kneel on the
floor, open their kimonos and unsheathe their short-swords, preparing to
Katsumoto glares at him harshly, furious to have his concentration disturbed
at such a moment.
There's a wa y out. Look--!
Reluctantly, Katsumoto joins him at the window.
This place is designed to keep people from getting
in, not from getting out. We can make it
This was your plan?
Do you have a better one?
Nakao and Ujio look at Katsumoto, awaiting his response. He turns to Algren.
I may die. But I'll die trying.
And without another word he LAUNCHES himself out the window, onto the sloping roof.
EXT. CASTLE ROOF TOPS NIGHT
Like his cigar butt earlier in the sequence, he rolls, then falls, hits another
roof, rolls, slides, falls, hits again.
INT. UPPER KEEP CONTINUOUS
Katsumoto and the others share a look. Has he survived?
GUNFIRE begins to pepper the floorboards, bullets whistling past them.
EXT. CASTLE ROQF TOPS CONTINUOUS
Algren slides, bumps, rolls, falls, hits, then slides again. Until he finally plummets into the moat.
As his head rises above water, he lets out a scream of absolute joy.
INT. UPPER KEEP CONTINUOUS
Katsumoto hears the scream. A look of disbelief spreads over his face.
Then the beginnings of a smile. Without a second look, be leaps out the
window. Ujio follows.
Graham shrinks away in fear. Nakao lifts him bodily, throws him out, and then follows.
INT. CASTLE -- RECEPTION CHAMBER LATER
Omura stands, very calm, smoking a cigarette, listening to the report of his guards.
Colonel Bagley tries to apologize.
... 1 don't know what to say, sir. I never would
have thought him capable of treason.
I would say Captain Algren's acts tonight have
assured our success.
What do you mean?
Katsumoto will rejoin his kinsmen. They will fight.
We will destroy them with your new weapons.
What if he just goes off to the mountains and
becomes a damn sheep-herder or some such?
You still do not understand us ... Katsumoto can
do nothing but fight. It is his role in the drama.
He must act out his destiny. He knows it.
You trust a lot in destiny.
This story was written years ago. From the first
sight of your warships in our harbor...
(stares out the window)
It is a1l inevitable.
EXT. HILLS SUNSET
Algren, Katsumoto, and the others ride over rocky ground.
June 1, 1877. Yesterday, I passed the field where
Zebulon Gant was killed by the man with whom
I now ride.
In the distance a steam train chugs along. Inevitable. Progress.
EXT. FOREST MOUNTAINS DAY
They climb a steep trail. Beyond, the glaciers glow pink.
I am beset by ironies -- trained to fight rebels
now I am one. And yet 1 ask mysel f... can a man
Algren, Katsumoto, and the others ride through a dense forest Katsumoto
reins his horse. The others follow suit. They wait
And if so, what would he make of it?
Mounted samurai emerge from the thick forest As it they were invisible.
The leader leaps from his horse and bows, touching his head to the dirt.
All the other samurai follow suit.
EXT. CHERRY TREE FOREST--NEAR THE VILLAGE EVENING
Katsumoto rides at the head of his samurai as they pass through the cherry
orchard. Then he reins his horse and falls in beside Algren.
(his voice troubled)
I was prepared to die in Omura's castle. And
yet here I am. I cannot help but ask why were
you sent into my life. What is the lesson you
were meant to give me?
Maybe that neither of us is as smart as we
Katsumoto laugh. And then in a surprisingly deft imitation of Algren
You...ain't whistlin' Dixie...
He spurs his horse and heads off. Algren shakes his head and follows.
EXT. VILLAGE EVENING
The returning warriors are warmly welcomed by the villagers.
Algren rides directly to Yoritomo's house, dismounts.
Taka and Toshiie are waiting.
He goes to them. His expression tells them all they need to know.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE NIGHT
Algren sits with the family. The boys sit next to their mother.
... he gave his life to save us. He died bravel y.
Thank you, Algren-San.
Will you fight the white men?
If they come here, yes.
Because they come to destroy what I have come to love.
Taka looks at him, moved and surprised. Suddenly, Higen jumps up and
bolts... out of the room. Algren looks to Taka.
The wa y of Samurai is difficult for children. He
misses his father.
And he is angry because I am the cause of that.
She smiles ever so slightly at his obliviousness.
No. He it angry because he fears you will die as well.
EXT. VILLAGE NIGHT
Higen stands, looking up at the stars.
My father taught me it is glorious to die in battle.
That is what he believed.
I would be afraid to die in battle.
So would I.
But you have been in many battles.
And I was always afraid.
Higen looks at him, tears welling in his eyes.
I don't want you to go.
Algren has no answer. He can only gather the boy up in his arms and hold
EXT VILLAGE DAY
Nakao is standing proudly, his massive arms folded across his chest. We
pull back: Graham is bunched behind his photographic equipment. A flash
of phosphorous and the moment is immortalized.
Meanwhile, Algren is working with Higen on the house.
Katsumoto silently watches Algren working with the boy.
They are corning.
EXT MOUNTAINS DAY
Algren and Katsumoto perch on a precipice, looking down into a valley.
It is a beautiful setting. Towering peaks and peaceful valleys. It is here that
the final act of the inevitable drama will play out.
Bel ow they see the Imperial Army, thousands strong, marching across the
valley toward them. Terrifying martial columns in strict formation.
I call it five thousand troops. They'll come in
waves of about a thousand, a few minutes between
Katsumoto listens carefully to Algren's expertise.
German formations have the infantry staggered
with on1y light flanking. They'll come straight on
with rifles and fixed bayonets. Mausers are only
accurate to about 150 yards. They'll look to
Katsumoto takes this in.
EXT. VALLEY DAY
Colonel Bagley, Omura, several German advisors and Japanese officers ride
at the head of the Imperial Army. .
Bagley sees something, raises a hand. The troops halt.
Algren and Katsumoto ride up to them. Stop.
Captain... (to Katsumoto)... Sir, the Imperial
Army of Japan demands your surrender. If you
and your fellows lay down your arms you will
not be harmed.
That is not possible. As Omura knows.
Omura meets Katsumoto's look, nods. Bagley turns to Algren.
Captain Algren, we will show no quarter. You
ride against us and you are the same as they are.
I take that as a compliment, Colonel.
(a deadly calm)
I'll look for you on the field.
Algren and Katsumoto wheel their horses and go.
EXT. MOUNTAIN RIDGE DAY
Algren and Katsumoto ride.
They have the howitzers.
About a dozen.
Katsumoto considers this. Algren looks up into the mountains.
A man could get lost up there ... Build an army.
Hold out a very long time.
Algren-san...Have you seen what happens to the
villages that stand In the way of the railroad?
Algren nods. He remembers.
That is what will happen to my village if we do
not stand and fight.
(looks at him)
No. We serve the Emperor here.
At least make it battle, not a suicide.
And what would that accomplish?
Algren lifts his head, enjoying the feeling of the sun and wind on his face.
It might give you one more day ... One more
fine day like this.
Katsumoto stares at him for a long moment, then smiles and spurs his horse. Algren follows.
They ride together, side by aide, the wind billowing their cloaks -- We enjoy the
ride as they do, the trees strobing by, the sun slanting through the leaves.
EXT. VILLAGE NIGHT
It is the eve of battle. And the samurai rejoice.
Katsumoto is on stage at the center of the village square, enthusiastically
performing a Noh drama. Algren sits with Toshiie and Taka in the audience,
enjoying Katsumoto's theatrics.
Other samurai can be seen around the village, eating, singing, and playing
instruments. Tonight is for celebrating life.
Elsewhere, a flash as Graham takes a photograph of some children.
On the stage, Katsumoto spots Algren in the audience, points to him and
encourages him to join him. Algren resists. Toshiie prods him. Algren
surrenders and joins Katsumoto on the stage. The villagers are delighted.
Katsumoto embroils Algren in the performance. Algren does his best,
laughing at Katsumoto's antics.
It is the freest and happiest we have ever seen Algren. Time
SLOWS as we Savor his simple enjoyment
Toshiie is highly amused. Taka has a deeper response, she is moved as she
watches Algren give himself over to the part.
EXT. VILLAGE LATER THAT NIGHT
A somber mood has descended. Algren sits and writes in his journal.
July 14, 1877. For so long now, I have managed
to convince myself that there was nothing worth
A samurai plays a melancholy bamboo flute. The gentle sound floats through the village...
Certainly nothing worth dying for.
We see samurai preparing for the final battle. Some check
their armor... Others meditate...
Now I am not so sure.
Some make up their faces so they will look handsome when they greet death.
Some methodically polish their swords. Some sit with their families.
And so, for the first time in my life, I am truly
afraid. Not of dying. But of losing something
worth living for.
Ujio is performing a graceful, ritualistic sword-dance to the song of the flute.
Algren Joins Graham to watch him.
What is it:? .
The kenbu,.. his dance of death.
Taka comes to them.
Algren-san, will you come with me?
Algren leaves Graham and accompanies Taka toward the house.
They pass Higen and Toshiie, who sit with other children at the feet of the
massive Nakao, listening to a quiet story he tells,
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE FOLLOWING
The gentle flute music from outside drifts in.
One of Yoritomo's beautiful kimonos is elegantly spread on a mat.
If you wear this, it will honor us.
She steps to him.
A moment. She gently reaches forward and unbuttons his collar.
A tender, silent scene as she undresses him and carefully wraps him in the
kimono. Her hands move gracefull y around his body, never quite touching
him. His movements are gentle in response.
When he is fully dressed, then are tears in his eyes.
Suddenly, fiercely, they are holding each other.
EXT. KATSUMOTO'S HOUSE -- PORCH LATER THAT NIGHT
The quiet evening continues.
Algren, now dressed in the kimono, finds Katsumoto carefully dropping little
leaves of incense into a small flame that simmers inside his battle helmet.
So m y hair will have a pleasing scent when I
meet my ancestors ... (dry) ... You do not do this ?
Algren smiles, sits.
I studied war at a place called West Point. They
taught us about a battle called Thermopylae.
Three hundred brave warriors held off the king
of Persia's army of a million men. For two da ys
they made them pay so dearly that the king lost
all appetite for further invasion
(looks at him)
... I have some thoughts about the battle tomorrow.
Do you really think we can defeat them?
I sure as hell want to find out.
You believe a man can change his destiny?
No ... But I think a man cannot know his destiny.
He can only do what he can, until his destiny is
A si1ent beat.
Then Katsumoto picks up a long bundle wrapped in cloth. He unwraps it.
A beautilu1 long samurai sword.
He bows his head and offers it to Algren.
There are Japanese characters etched on the blade.
What does it say?
"I belong to the warrior in whom the old ways
have joined the new."
Algren is moved beyond words. He bows.
As the CAMERA pulls away, Algren and Katsumoto squat side by side,
drawing in the dirt with a stick, planning the next day's battle strategy.
Across the square, Ujio continues his elegant dance of death, his graceful
form illuminated in silhouette by a fire.
INT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE MORNING
It is the day of the battle. Algren is buttoning the long coat of his cavalry uniform.
He looks up to see Higen standing in the doorwa y, holding the breast-plate
of his father's armor.
EXT. YORITOMO'S HOUSE DAY
Algren emerges from the house, wearing the breast-plate over his coat.
Taka is at his horse, tying a bag of food to the saddle. She turns and sees her
husband's armor on this man. And her breath stops.
Algren approaches her. They stand very cl ose.
If that is my destiny ... Anshinritsumai. [I
wish you peace.]
He bows his head to her, she responds. The boys stand on the porch,
watching. He mounts his horse and trots off. They watch him go. .
Algren joins the line of samurai leaving the village. It is the first time we have
seen them in their full battle armor since the battle in the fog.
Katsumoto in his black armor, Ujio in his jet black. And Algren in the blood-red
breast-plate. It is dazzling.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD DAWN
We move along the line of waiting samurai. The faces are stoic. Prepared.
Their horses are corralled well behind them.
Algren stands with Katsumoto and Ujio. Graham is nearby. They peer into the
They have chosen a strong defensive position. A steep mountain pass. Slopes on either
side create a funnel ahead of them. The Imperial Army will have to pass through the
funnel to reach them.
On a hill above them
Higen is revealed. He looks down first at the five hundred Samurai, then
sees, beyond, the overwhelming mass of the IMPERIAL ARMY.
Back on the battlefield
A distant thud followed by a high-pitched whine. A MASSIVE EXPLOSION
ahead of the Samurai. Artillery.
Algren finds Graham cowering at the base of a straw barricade.
Would you please stay with the horses?
Graham would like to be brave enough to remain, but he is not a soldier.
As you suggest.
Graham starts to go --
Mr. Graham ... Take this.
From his coat, Algren takes his journal, hands it to Graham.
Maybe you can use it for your book.
He heads back to the relative safet y of the horse corral.
Meanwhile, the samurai remain impassive as artillery is stepped in closer, the
range bracketed. Then artillery rounds begin to fall among them.
Samurai are blown to pieces as they bravel y stand and await
death. Katsumoto BARKS a command to Ujio.
Suddenly, the Samurai break ranks and trot into a new defense
alignment. The artillery rounds now fall ineffectually where once
Bagley directs the artillery to be re-targeted, It is a laborious, clumsy
process. They fire again. Another command. The Samurai change
Bagley is furious. Their fluid tactics have rendered his field artillery useless.
Katsumoto and Algren share a look of grim satisfaction. They are leveling
the playing field.
Bugle calls are heard from the Imperial Army.
The call to advance.
The rattle of the snare drums. The sound of marching boots.
And then they appear. Thousands upon thousands of them. The Imperial
Army marching relentlessly forward in strict formation. The Rising Sun displayed.
Katsumoto gazes at the awe-inspiring sight. His 500 samurai face a staggering
Tell me ... what happened to those three hundred
warriors at Thermopylae?
(a grim smile)
Dead to the last man.
Katsumoto glances to him, smiles.
EXT. THE SAMURAI POSITION CONTINUOUS
The First Division of the Imperial Army moves into the funnel, their numbers
reduced by the size of the access, and head toward the barricade.
Katsumoto and Algren watch as they move closer and closer. We
are expecting the samurai to open fire, but they do not. They just
Finally the Imperial soldiers are in rifle range. They stop to fi re a volley.
Bullets begin hitting among the samurai. Many fall.
Algren nods to Katsumoto, Katsumoto then calls out a command and the
They race back toward the rear of the funnel.
The Imperial Army soldiers climb awkwardly over the first barricade and
The samurai, meanwhile, have taken cover behind a second barricade that
had been hidden from the Imperial soldiers' view. Now safel y behind
the second barricade, Katsumoto calls out a command and--
The samurai fire!
500 arrows explode -- almost instantly followed by 500 more --
Like an image from Agincourt, the clouds of arrows sweep across the sky --
Imperial Soldiers fall, the attack falters--
From behind the new barricades, archers fire FLAMING ARROWS, that
Hit the old barricade. It EXPLODES INTO FLAMES, trapping the Imperia1
Army bet ween the two barricades.
And from the second barricade, two large CA TAPULTS send balls of flaming
pitch into the already panicking soldiers.
EXT. OPPOSING HILL TOP DAY
Colonel Bagley, Omura, several German advisers and Japanese Officers
watch through binoculars. Stunned. As the First Wave is routed.
What the hell?
It seems Katsumoto will resist his destiny.
(snaps an order)
Send in the second wave. Two divisions.
EXT. BARRICADES DAY
Algren and Katsumoto wait behind the second barricade. We note that this
barricade is the real thing.
Katsumoto removes a piece of shattered armor from his left forearm, a
bullet wound beneath. Algren looks over the barricade.
They see Imperial soldiers using semaphore flags to communicate with their commanders
on the opposing hilltop.
They need to regroup and report our position. Then
they'll come hard.
Katsumoto considers the bodies of the dead Imperia1soldiers.
It is sad to see brave men die without faces... You cannot
tell one warrior from another.
They're not warriors. They're soldiers. It's a
Not my world anymore.
EXT. BATTLE FIELD DAY
Bugles. The attack is reforming. Ranks now bolstered by reinforcements.
They come at a trot, through the narrow defile, skirting the first barricade,
continuing at a trot toward the second barricade.
EXT. 2ND BARRICADE DAY
Katsumoto pulls his long sword. Algren does the same.
Katsumoto calls out an order -- the archers fire another round.
The Imperial soldiers are being annihilated but still they come in great waves --
for ever y one who falls it seems there are ten to take his place.
They race forward, stepping over their fallen comrades, bayonets poised --
The Mauser rifles flash --
Bullets explode around the samurai, many are hit.
The Imperial Army has been trained to keep firing on the run. The waiting
Samurai will be decimated, except --
From the hills on either side
Fully half of the Samurai force -- who have been kept hidden until this moment...
charge, screaming into the flank of the attacking Army. Even rifles cannot fire in
three directions at once.
Algren and Katsumoto lead the charge over the second barricade. Some are cut down,
but in moments swords engage ba yonets in brutal hand-to-band combat.
Algren And Katsumoto fight back to back, as if one person, slashing with their
swords, shattering bayonet, dealing death on all sides.
Ujio crouches, his back leg straight and planted, his front leg bent. Still using
his bow, firing off arrows with Stunning speed, refusing to budge--
On the opposing hillside
Bagley and Omura watch the battle through binoculars.
A classic "V" ambush. Sonofabitcb is using
Welt Point tactics.
In the midst of the battle
A charging soldier thrust s his bayonet into Katsumoto's arm - Katsumoto kills,
the soldier with his short sword but is awkwardly tangled with his body, a second
soldier races toward him for the kill - Algren spins and attacks killing the second
soldier - but a third races toward Algren, bayonet f1ashing
He dodges -- but the bayonet slices into his side --
Algren kicks the soldier away -- tries to use his sword but the soldier springs
back ath1etically .. Ujio appears like a black spectral figure to deliver the
coup de grace.
All SOUND gradually fades and is replaced by the elegaic sound of a bamboo
flute... the images of combat become fragmented and impressionistic.
Bur no matter how bravel y the samurai fight, they are simply outnumbered...
Nakao is like a cornered bear, arcing his two swords wildly around him. He
is shot in the chest, and staggers a moment before continuing. Another
soldier shoots him in the arm at point blank range. Nakao', sword goes fl ying,
so the giant Samurai leaps forward and picks up the shooter bodily, twirling
him around like a wrestler, throwing him finally onto the upraised pike of a
fellow Imperial soldier. But now three more soldiers have levelled their
weapons, and a ruthless volley staggers him again. Shots rain on him as he
tries to continue fighting, but his strength leaves him. Finally, with one last
lunge, he manages to pull an Imperial soldier with him, crushing him as he falls.
More and more fall as Algren, Katsumoto, and their comrades fight desperately...
The mournful flute is the appropriate accompaniment as Ujio is mortally
wounded. The grim award master is cut through with bullets. Still he fights.
An Imperial soldier holds up a rifle to protect himself, and Ujio's blade cuts
through the barrel. The soldier just has time to look at the gun in amazement
before a second sweep of Uji o's sword beheads him. But there are too many
to take the man's place, and finally fi ve men run Uji o through with bayonets,
and he is pinned against the barricade, still upright in death.
At last, what is left of this second wave of the Imperial Army, retreats.
EXT. PLAIN ALMOST SUNSET
The plain before the barricade is littered with Imperial Army dead.
Algren and Katsumoto sit exhausted, leaning against the barricade. They are
Only about. hundred samurai are still alive.
Algren looks over the decimated warriors for a moment. Even those still
alive are in bad shape as they wait for the next wave of Imperial soldiers.
Katsumoto is looking at Ujio's body nearby.
He was Kaishaku ... my trusted friend.
We won't be able to hold them back this time.
This is not your battle. You do not have to die
A long beat.
I died a long time ago.
But now you live again.
It was not your time.
No. Maybe I survived just to live this one last day.
Algren looks at him.
He slowl y pulls himself up. He and Katsumoto gaze at the plain before them.
At the infantry troops massing on the opposing hilltop.
Algren looks at Katsumoto. He reaches into the pocket of his old uniform
and takes out the Medal of Honor he received, long ago, at Sutter's Hill.
He affixes it to his old cavalry tunic.
Katsumoto looks at Algren. They are both thinking the same thing.
EXT. PLAIN SUNSET
The hundred mounted samurai are a beautiful sight.
They wait in formation in front of the barricade, the long plain through the
funnel to the opposing hilltop before them.
Katsumoto draws his long samurai sword.
Algren draws his.
And they slowl y begin to trot forward...
And then to canter...
BEHIND THE IMPERIAL ARMY
Colonel Bagley and Omura watch, transfixed. There is something
approaching admiration on Omura's face. On Bagley's, there is only malice.
The gatling guns. Quickly.
EXT. PLAIN SUNSET
Katsumoto points his sword and screams out his war cry. .
And they charge. It is suicidal
It is glorious.
It is the end of the samurai.
They charge forward, their war cries echoing in the canyon.
The Imperial troops fire rifles -- samurai fall .. but still they come: -- pounding
over the earth like something from an ancient dream
Algren and Katsumoto charge side by side. Alive. Warriors.
BEHIND THE IMPERIAL ARMY
Bagley and Omura watch as the samurai fall, one by one.
WITH THE CHARGE
Fifteen or twenty of the samurai -- including Algren and Katsumoto--
somehow manage to fight their way through the lines.
They break into the open.
And continue riding straight toward the rear.
ALGREN AND KATSUMOTO
Are both wounded, yet still they charge. They have only one thought in
mind -- death to their enemies. They gallop forward toward Bagley and Omura.
Looks around in abject terror. He screams out an order.
Are moving into position. Their rear gates fall open ... revealing the GATILING GUNS.
ALGREN AND KATSUMOTO
Are near enough to see them. Yet they will not be deterred.
They charge on.
THE GATLING GUNS
Are not yet ready to fire. Japanese soldiers slam ammo belts into the chambers.
ALGREN, KATSUMOTO AND THE REMAINING SAMURAI
Have almost reached their goal.
Cowers in fear, looks around, but there is nowhere to hide.
THE SAMURAI CHARGE
Even while riding at I full gallop, they have fixed arrows into their long
bows. They let loose a lethal volley.
Fire! Fire, dammit!!!!!
But before the guns can open up, he is IMPALED BY ARROW AFTER
ARROW, a human pincushion. The final arrow pierces his forehead.
The Gatling Guns finally fire. Ripping into the samurai-
One after another is hit -- and still they come -- their voices raised in glorious cries of triumph-
Graham watches from a hilltop, tears in his eyes.
Katsumoto is hit, blood explodes .- his horse falls -- he spi1ls off--
Then Algren is hit -- he falls--
Algren drags himself to Katsumoto, bullets exploding ever ywhere
Algren looks up to see...
The remaining samurai still charging-
And still the Gatling Guns tear through them--
And still they charge
Until they are all down.
EXT. OPPOSING HILLTOP SUNSET
A Japanese Officer shouts out an order -- the Gatling Guns stop.
Omura screams at him to continue firing!
The Japanese officer barks out response. Refusing.
Omura sees all the samurai are dead or dying.
But he also sees Algren kneeling by Katsumoto, dragging him awa y. He
screams at the Japanese officer to resume fire!
The Japanese officer refuses.
He just looks over the plain of dying samurai for a moment. Then he does
the most remarkable thing.
He slowl y kneels and touches his head to the dirt.
Then a soldier near him does the same thing. Then another and another.
And then by the thousands.
They kneel and touch their heads to the dirt.
Honoring the last samurai.
EXT. PLAIN SUNSET
A1gren drags the dying Katsumoto to a8 copse of cherry trees nearby...
EXT. CHERRY TREES SUNSET
Both men are bleeding profusel y.
Help me up...
Just -- stay there.
Help me up.
Algren helps him to stand. Without Algren's support, he would fall.
You have your honor again. Let me die with
mine ... Kaishaku.
Algren looks at him, deeply moved. Katsumoto manages to pull out his short sword.
You must help me. Hold it firmly...
Algren supports Katsumoto as he holds the sword's point firmly to his stomach.
Are you ready?
Katsumoto looks at him deepl y, warmly.
We will ride together again.
Katsumoto embraces Algren firmly -- the sma1l sword impales him
Algren holds him tightly. Katsumoto is looking over Algren's shoulder as he dies.
Katsumoto sees something. A look of joy and absolute peace comes to his features.
It is perfect... They are all perfect.
His eyes cl ose. He is dead.
Algren gently kneels with Katsumoto's body
He holds him for a moment and then turns to see what Katsumoto was looking at.
A display of perfect beauty.
We slowl y fade to...
INT. IMPERIAL PALACE -- THRONE ROOM DAY
Ambassador Swanbeck, Omura, and a retinue of advisors are presenting the
treaty documents for the Emperor's signature. The Emperor sits restively
on his throne.
...will usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity
and cooperation between our two great nations.
A servant comes and whispers into the Emperor's ear.
Highness, if we could just conclude the matter
The Emperor ignores Omura, and gestures that the doors to the chamber be opened.
Algren enters with Graham. Algren carries something wrapped in a blanket.
He approaches the Emperor. Kneels and sets the bundle at the Emperor's feet.
Algren remains kneeling with his head bowed. He unwraps the bundle.
It is Katsumoto's long samurai sword.
'The Emperor looks at it.
All your enemies are dead, Enlightened One.
The Emperor continues to look at the sword. He does not look up.
You were with him at the end.
Yes. He asked that I bring you this -- that the
strength of the samurai will be with you alwa ys.
The Emperor rises from his chair and sits on the floor, in the traditional
Japanese fashion, before the sword.
(after a moment)
En1ightcned One, we all weep for his loss, but
the future of our country lies in-
The Emperor interrupts him, speaking in English -- to ever yone's surprise.
My ancestors have ruled Japan for 2,000 years.
And for all that time we have slept. During my
sleep I have dreamed. I dreamed of a unified
Japan. Of a country strong and independent and
(touches the sword lovingly)
And now we are awake. We have railroads and
cannon and Western clothing. But we cannot
forget who we are. Or where we come from.
The Emperor looks up at the gathered dignitaries.
Ambassador Swanbeck I have concluded that your treaty
is not in the best interests of my people.
Sir, if I may--
You may not. From this moment on, economic investment
from ever y nation will be considered equally.
Ambassador Swanbeck is stunned.
This is an outrage--
The Emperor gestures. A servant escorts Swanbeck to the exit. Omura takes a step
closer to the Emperor.
Enlightened One, we should discuss this
Omura, do you know our northern island?
Omura is confused.
There is a small one called Taraku. A rock in the sea.
There is nothing there but crabs who have been known
to tear a sleeping man apart ... I have had a small house
constructed on the island. You will go there now and
await our summons.
I hereby seize your family's assets and present them
as my gift to the people.
Omura looks at him, stunned.
Further, I have decided to stop the railroad cxpansion
You have served your function. I have no more
need of you ... You can conspire with the crabs
now. Remove yourself.
Honored Emperor, I do not know wh y you
The Emperor finally looks up from the sword.
If your shame is too unbearable ... I offer you
Omura looks at him for a moment. Then bows tersely and goes.
The Emperor looks at Algren, still kneeling before him.
(in English again)
The samurai is not a man now. He is an idea.
Tell me how he died.
Algren looks At the Emperor.
I will tell you how he lived.
We slowl y fade as Algren begins to speak...
EXT. VILLAGE DAY
Spring. A few years later.
There are no samurai training in the square, but otherwise the village is
bustling with life. We HEAR Graham's voice:
...And so the days of the samurai had ended.
INT. LECTURE HALL (ENGLAND) DAY
Graham stands at a lectern on a book tour. A well-dressed audience listens
attentivel y. A banner proclaims, "The Last Samurai," by Simon Graham.
And in the years to come the Rising Sun of Imperial Japan
would fl y in triumph over Korea, over Russia, even over
China. Nations, like men, it is sometimes said, have
their own destiny
EXT. VILLAGE DAY
We see that Yoritomo's house has finally been completed.. Toshiie sits on the porch,
Instructing a group of younger children in calligraphy.
As for the American Captain, no one knows
what became of him. All that is left is his journal
which I have published, according to his last request.
Taka steps from the house and passes Toshiie, she carries a basket. We
move through the village with her...
Some lay he died of his wounds, others that he
returned to his own country...
She passes an old man teaching the Noh drama to a group of teenagers.
She passes Higen, working on a new building. Apparently he has found a
good life as a carpenter. He seems content.
We go with Taka as she leaves the village...
EXT. CHERRY TREES DAY
Taka moves through the cherry orchard.
But I like to think he may have found at last
some small measure of the peace we all seek,
but few of us ever find.
Taka stops. Watching. We follow her gaze to discover:
Algren, sitting alone. Gazing peacefully sat the cherry bl ossoms.
Waiting for the perfect one. He turns to her, a smile of quiet joy spreads
across his face.
Anshinritsumai. [I wish you peace.]