Does General Rokurota Makabe get rewarded?
26 January 2018
27 January 2018
Its a couple of years since I’ve watched it, but from memory he never gets a direct ‘reward’. Being a good samurai, to have protected the princess and succeeded in his mission would have been reward enough, and to have sought a ‘medal’ or whatever would have seemed a little crass. Its a common feature I think in samurai films that ‘commoners’ who do good get rewards, samurai do not, they are simply doing their duty.
By a coincidence, I read your post while reading this article in Aeon ‘Why is pop culture obsessed with battles between good and evil?’. It points out how Star Wars differs from its acknowledged sources in that it draws an explicit moral lesson from the story.
Novelists and filmmakers who base their work on folklore also seem to focus on commonalities. George Lucas very explicitly based Star Wars on Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), which describes the journey of a figure such as Luke Skywalker as a human universal. J R R Tolkien used his scholarship of Old English epics to recast the stories in an alternative, timeless landscape; and many comic books explicitly or implicitly recycle the ancient myths and legends, keeping alive story threads shared by stories new and old, or that old stories from different societies around the world share with each other.
Less discussed is the historic shift that altered the nature of so many of our modern retellings of folklore, to wit: the idea that people on opposite sides of conflicts have different moral qualities, and fight over their values. That shift lies in the good guy/bad guy dichotomy, where people no longer fight over who gets dinner, or who gets Helen of Troy, but over who gets to change or improve society’s values. Good guys stand up for what they believe in, and are willing to die for a cause. This trope is so omnipresent in our modern stories, movies, books, even our political metaphors, that it is sometimes difficult to see how new it is, or how bizarre it looks, considered in light of either ethics or storytelling.
I think its a point worth making that Kurosawa’s sources, and his earlier films in particular, did not tend to have simple good/evil dichotomies (see Yojimbo as an example). The Hidden Fortress is something of an outlier in his films as the good guys and bad guys are clear from the beginning, although of course a key narrative point of the film is that the two peasants are noisy, greedy, and argumentative (and even at one stage, potential rapists), and yet we never really doubt that they will come good in the end.
6 February 2018
i concur with ugetsu.
the general was performing his duties as the princess’s protector and her house’s remaining military leader. he should receive a reward no more than luke and han should have received a medal at the end of star wars. after all, destroying a death star meant taking the lives of thousands of enemies, maybe tens or hundreds of thousands of them. and there were still the many non-imperial lives to mourn, so in a way, SW’s medal scene is a bit too cheery for the circumstances.
if you have to compare makabe with a star wars character, the closest analogue is kenobi. both are generals, both are significantly older than the princess, both are experienced at warfare, and neither is a simple farm boy or a smuggler mercenary.
makabe, if the story went further, would remain in the service of the princess, and would help her rebuild her house, forge alliances, and protect the house’s interests.
So, in The Hidden Fortress, we see the peasants rewarded but does the general get rewarded with anything if so with what? And if he didn’t why wouldn’t he be?
Was there a system for medals or was this just never presented in the film?
Just in case you are wondering I am interested in this because I am comparing the characters of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker with General Makabe and I am wondering if they are given the same or similar awards for their actions.
– Moddy 🙄