The Last Samurai is a 2003 American epic drama|western film directed and co-produced by Edward Zwick, who also co-wrote the screenplay based on a story by John Logan. The film was inspired by a project developed by writer and director Vincent Ward.
Ward became executive producer on the film – working in development on
it for nearly four years and after approaching several directors
(Coppola, Weir), he interested Edward Zwick. The film production went
ahead with Zwick and was shot in Ward’s native New Zealand.
The film stars Tom Cruise
(who also co-produced) in the role of American soldier Nathan Algren,
whose personal and emotional conflicts bring him into contact with samurai warriors in the wake of the Meiji Restoration in the Empire of Japan in 1876 and 1877. Other actors include Ken Watanabe, Shin Koyamada, Tony Goldwyn, Hiroyuki Sanada, Timothy Spall, and Billy Connolly. The film's plot was inspired by the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion led by Saigō Takamori, and also on the stories of Jules Brunet, a French army captain who fought alongside Enomoto Takeaki in the earlier Boshin War and Frederick Townsend Ward, an American mercenary who helped Westernize the Chinese army by forming the Ever Victorious Army.
The historical roles of the British Empire, the Netherlands and France in Japanese westernization
are largely attributed to the United States in the film. These details,
characters in the film and the real story are simplified for plot
purposes; the film does not seek to duplicate history. The Last Samurai was well received upon release, with a worldwide box office of $456 million. In addition it was nominated for several awards, including the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and the National Board of Review.