- Actors: John Wayne, Eiko Ando, Sam Jaffe, So Yamamura, Hiroshi Yamato
- Directors: John Huston
- Producers: Eugene Frenke
- Format: PAL
- Language: English
- Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Number of discs: 1
- Classification: U
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- DVD Release Date: 20 Feb. 2006
- Run Time: 100 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B000BTIPGG
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,065 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
The Barbarian And The Geisha [DVD]
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This semi-historical drama tells of the first American ambassador to Japan, who arrived in 1856 to much opposition but found comfort and support with a local geisha. John Wayne stars with Eiko Ando, Sam Jaffe and So Yamamura.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Barbarian and the Geisha is a good looking and lavishly mounted drama about John Wayne's 19th Century American diplomat trying to establish relations with isolationist Japan. If that sounds like a pretty dry pitch, the film focuses not on the politics but his impossible romance with the Geisha girl sent to spy on him as he slowly wins over the locals by introducing cholera to their village and burning down their houses. Drastic, true, but it seems to work, which might explain the Duke's views on Vietnam. The production design and CinemaScope location photography are the real stars of the show, largely because of a dull script and a visible lack of interest from director John Huston, although there is one nicely playful scene involving a cannon.
The DVD film boasts a good widescreen 2.55:1 transfer with fine colour, although for some reason the theatrical trailer is a 1.85:1 version. The disc also includes a brief newsreel extract and stills gallery.
"The Barbarian and the Geisha" directed by John Huston is based on the true story of Townsend Harris as Americas first Consul General to Japan at a time they were still ruled by a Shogun and were hostile to all foreigners. He actually fell in love with a 17 year old Geisha girl who committed suicide later in life. Harris had to fight Cholera epidemics and the enmity of a people steeped in old traditions. It has the makings of a good story, so what went wrong?
Aside from the odd casting this was not the film Huston envisioned. His vision was a very Japanese styled film heavy on photography, pacing, colour and narration. But due to studio editing what emerged was something completely different. Huston immediately denounced it and wanted his name removed. Shades of what was to come with Sam Peckinpah and "Major Dundee". But his name, perhaps unfairly remained.
So what do we have left. Well in all honestly a fragmented oddity. Perhaps if Huston had had his way it would have been a much better film. As it is there are some pretty scenes filmed in Kyoto and at the Todai-Ji shrine in Nara, but little else aside from Waynes comedic moments. It is so odd it may one day like the Japanese Godzilla movies, attain some sort of cult status. It is worth a good 3 stars in my book on that basis alone. You may find it amusing like me.
1. The real story.
This film is indeed based on a true story. By the signature of first American-Japanese treaty in 1854 (Convention of Kanagawa) two Japanese ports were opened for trade with Americans, Japanese government guaranteed the safety of American sailors wrecked on Japanese coasts and it also allowed the opening of an American consulate in Shimoda. In 1856 president Pierce send to Japan the first such US Consul General, Townsend Harris. After his arrival Harris demanded the courtesies due to an accredited envoy and refused to deliver president's Pierce letter to any one but to the Tokugawa Shogun in Edo. Negotiations lasted 18 months before Harris finally was received in audience by the Shogun. During the next four months he successfully negotiated the Treaty of Amity and Commerce (Harris Treaty of 1858), setting clear rules for trade between the US and Japan. After a succesful five years term Harris returned to the United States in 1861, retired soon after and died in 1878, aged 73.
During his stay in Japan Harris was assisted by Henry Heusken, a diplomat young of age (he was only 24 at his arrival in Japan) but enthusiastic and fluent in both Chinese and Japanese. Tragically, at the very end of his term of service, he was murdered in January 1861 by a group of anti-foreign extremists from Satsuma province. His diary about the almost five years spend in Japan was conserved and later published by Harris, together with his own journal, as tribute to his loyal collaborator. This film is based on both accounts by Harris and Heusken.Read more ›
The Fox DVD (an import from England) is a colorful anamorphic wide screen transfer in its original CinemaScope ratio.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I brought this for my husband for Christmas and he is happy with itPublished 21 months ago by Michelle
An unusual John Wayne film set in Japan that gives a good insight into a different culture. A good storyline that is certainly worth a watch.Published on 24 Aug. 2014 by colinc