The history books won’t tell you the story of U.S. Marine Gen. Bonner Fellers that you see in “Emperor.” Which is just as well because Fellers’ real story is more chaotic and less overtly heroic than the character portrayed by Matthew Fox in Peter Webber’s new film.
Fox is Fellers, who serves under Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) as America assumes control of Japan at the end of World War II. MacArthur’s task – which he assigns to Fellers – is to determine whether Emperor Hirohito ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor and, if so, to decide whether he should be executed for doing so.
It’s not a simple decision. Japan is all but destroyed – but the people still venerate the Emperor as a god on Earth. To execute him would be to invite a revolt of the Japanese – sort of like what happened when the Bush administration disbanded the Iraqi army after toppling Saddam Hussein and an insurgency popped up.
This review continues on my website.