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Emperor Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    This one's likely to vex both history buffs and those who require some drama with their drama.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Some of the film's most illuminating scenes involve Aya's uncle, General Kajima (Toshiyuki Nishida), who schools Fellers on the sense of duty that is ingrained in Japanese culture.

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  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Emperor explores the delicate postwar dance of revenge, justice, and realpolitik, yet its focus on the issue of Hirohito's guilt or innocence (did he order the attack on Pearl Harbor? Or did he, in fact, oppose the Japanese military machine?)

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times

    As is the case with most of the elements in Emperor, the cliches are relatively few and spaced apart, and the tearjerking and profound moments are authentic and well-earned.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

MacArthur meets Hirohito in interesting historical drama.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Emperor is a historical drama about American generals attempting to establish order in post-WWII Japan, as well as deciding whether or not to arrest and try Emperor Hirohito for war crimes. The filmmakers have padded the story with a fictional romance (which includes some kissing), but the movie could inspire students and families to do further research. Violence isn't especially frequent/graphic, but there are a couple of suicides (with blood), fighting, and images of a bombed-out Japan after the war. There's also some language, mostly coming from General MacArthur, including one use of "f--k." Characters smoke cigarettes (and one smokes a corncob pipe) throughout, which is accurate for the era the movie takes place in. The main character drinks beer, sake, and whisky and sometimes gets drunk, with no apparent repercussions.

  • Families can talk about Emperor's violence. What parts were the most upsetting/disturbing? Why do you think so many of the Japanese characters commit or threaten suicide?
  • Why does Fellers drink and smoke so much? Is it related to the high stress of his job? Did people know in 1945 what they know now about cigarettes?
  • Why did Fellers choose not to arrest Hirohito? Did he make the right decision?
  • Why would the filmmakers add a romantic subplot to this story? What happens when fact and fiction are mixed?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: A man faces a complex decision. In spite of great pressure -- and after a great deal of mental struggle -- he eventually chooses compassion over revenge. And he manages to pass this compassion on to others.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: The main character shows strong empathy and tolerance toward another culture, though his own personal behavior is sometimes rude and pushy.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Emperor takes place in Tokyo after WWII. Viewers see destroyed buildings and homeless victims, and there's much talk about how many people died in bombings. Many guns are shown, but they're rarely fired. A dead body is seen just after suicide; a pool of blood is shown. Another character commits suicide with a gun behind an opaque window; blood splatters on the window. The main character gets into a bar fight, and his face is bloodied. Children throw rocks at the main character, giving him a small cut on his forehead.

  • sex false2

    Sex: The main character has a romantic relationship that includes lots of kissing, but nothing more sexual than that is shown or suggested. There's a brief scene of a "wild" college dance, with students kissing in the background.

  • language false3

    Language: Language is fairly infrequent, and only General MacArthur uses it. He says "f--king" once and uses "son of a bitch," "s--t," "balls," "hell," "piss," "damn," and "goddamn" at least once each.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Fellers drinks beer and gets drunk in a bar and later drinks whisky and gets drunk in his office. There are no apparent after affects. He smokes cigarettes throughout (accurate for the era). Many minor characters are also seen drinking and smoking in the background.