General Douglas MacArthur, polarizing World War II general who accepted Japan’s surrender, knew how to make an impression. When he fulfilled his promise to American troops and allies that he would eventually return to liberate the Philippines in 1944, he made sure that news cameras captured his moment of triumph — he dramatically made his way through the waves and on to the beach several times, just to make sure.
In Emperor, a new film that premieres tomorrow at the Toronto Film Festival, Tommy Lee Jones plays the conquering general as Americans troops arrive in Japan for post-war occupation and have to decide whether to treat the defeated nation’s figurehead as a war criminal. Jones doesn’t necessarily have the patrician bearing of MacArthur — or actors like Gregory Peck and Henry Fonda, who played the general in previous films — but he certainly mastered his supreme confidence. “I bear no real resemblance to MacArthur but when you put on the military uniform with lots of fruit salad on the front and smoke a corncob pipe — that’s the image that he cultivated and it became iconic,” said Jones.
In this exclusive clip, MacArthur prepares his men for battle — the intellectual and propaganda battle to win the peace after dropping two atomic bombs.
Emperor is directed by Peter Webber (Girl With a Pearl Earring) and co-stars Matthew Fox and Japanese actor Toshiyuki Nishida.