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The Boston Globe



‘Emperor’: What did Hirohito know and when did he know it?

Some stories just seem made for the movies. The passage of the 13th Amendment, let’s say, or some nerdy people sitting around in Tehran listening to Led Zeppelin. All right, those may not be the best examples, but you know what I’m getting at. There are those stories that seem as ill-suited to the cinema as salami. A case in point would be the decision in the days following World War II whether or not to charge Emperor Hirohito of Japan with war crimes. It’s a rich and significant subject for scholars, but not exactly filmic.

Director Peter Webber (“Girl With a Pearl Earring”) and screenwriters David Klass and Vera Blasi think otherwise. “Emperor” is the result. General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) tasks a deputy, General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox), to gather evidence about Hirohito. He has just 10 days before MacArthur has to tell Washington what to do. Gulp.

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