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‘Emperor’ Clip: Tommy Lee Jones is General Douglas MacArthur

Tommy Lee Jones in Emperor
Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate

Director Peter Webber’s ‘Emperor’ had its premiere last night at the Toronto International Film Festival and today, it was announced that Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate are teaming up distribute the film. Distribution was always in this movie’s future: anything starring Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur isn’t going to sit on a shelf. If you’re curious what that performance looks like, you’re in luck: the first clip from the film has made its way online.

The clip (which comes to us courtesy of Coming Soon) showcases MacArthur’s arrival on mainland Japan near the conclusion of World War II. In fact, the dozens of photographers taking pictures in this scene led to several iconic images of the man in real life. The clip encapsulates much of MacArthur in nutshell: his swaggering bravado and his ridiculous pipe painted a vivid picture of him that lasts to this day. Although Tommy Lee Jones has been accused of phoning in many of his performances in the past decade, it actually looks like he’s trying here, putting on a new voice instead of his typical drawl. Does he want a second Oscar? Or does he actually care about this project beyond the paycheck?

Although Jones is going to be the sold as the “star” of the film, the meat of the story seems to belong to Matthew Fox‘s General Bonner Fellers, a protege to MacArthur who was tasked with deciding if Japan’s emperor should be tried and hung as a war criminal (if you want spoilers and/or a history lesson, Google “the Tokyo tribunal”). Check out the clip below, followed by the official synopsis:

A gripping tale of love and honor forged between fierce enemies of war, Emperor unfolds the story, inspired by true events, of the bold and secret moves that won the peace in the shadows of post-war Japan. Matthew Fox joins Academy Award® winner Tommy Lee Jones and newcomer Eriko Hatsune to bring to life the American occupation of Japan in the perilous and unpredictable days just after Emperor Hirohito’s World War II surrender. As General Douglas MacArthur (Jones) suddenly finds himself the de facto ruler of a foreign nation, he assigns an expert in Japanese culture – General Bonner Fellers (Fox), to covertly investigate the looming question hanging over the country: should the Japanese Emperor, worshipped by his people but accused of war crimes, be punished or saved? Caught between the high-wire political intrigue of his urgent mission and his own impassioned search for the mysterious school teacher (Hatsune) who first drew him to Japan, Fellers can be certain only that the tricky subterfuge about to play out will forever change the history of two nations and his heart.

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