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The Last Samurai

The Last Samurai

2003 | Director: Edward Zwick

We built virtually “everything you see” from a 25-structure samurai village in New Zealand to a dozen or so interior sets and six blocks of 19th century downtown Tokyo on the Warners lot in Burbank.

Battlefields were designed so that trained horses could fall into grass pits and emerge without injury. There was also a great deal of maintenance required to ensure that the set looked the same day after day even though there were 500 men on horseback running over it continually.

Another challenge of the set was to follow the strict code of the 19th-century Meiji era of Japanese architecture. In effect, Lilly’s job with the sets, once they were built was to make sure they adhered to the Meiji era rather than adding embellishments. Architectural Digest lauded the magnificent sets for “Samurai” for their success in accurately capturing the brilliant simplicity of the rural life that Japanese warriors fought so valiantly to preserve.