Harakiri

Harakiri

4.8 10
Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Cast: Masaki Kobayashi, Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita

     
 

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This well-regarded Japanese drama follows an aging samurai as he attempts to regain his family's honor. In 17th century Japan, a shift in the country's political structure has thrown the feudal Shogun system into disuse. Impoverished samurai wander the countryside, asking wealthy estate owners if they can commit hara-kiri, a grisly form of suicide, on their property.

Overview

This well-regarded Japanese drama follows an aging samurai as he attempts to regain his family's honor. In 17th century Japan, a shift in the country's political structure has thrown the feudal Shogun system into disuse. Impoverished samurai wander the countryside, asking wealthy estate owners if they can commit hara-kiri, a grisly form of suicide, on their property. The usual and honorable response is an offer of some work for food or shelter. Into the house of a lord comes Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai), an elderly warrior who asks chief retainer Kageyu Saito (Rentaro Mikuni) that the manor's three hired swordsmen serve as his seconds in the ritual. When the appointed hour arrives, however, the swordsmen do not appear, dishonoring the man. Hanshiro reveals himself to be the father-in-law of Motome Chijiiwa (Yoshio Inaba), a young samurai who had earlier approached Saito and been cruelly forced to go through with the fatal act, disemboweling himself with a dull bamboo blade, as his own had been sold to feed his family.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
Arguably Kobayashi's masterpiece, the austere tale of revenge is a brilliant assault on the latent hypocrisy and cruelty in the code of the samurai. The film takes place in peaceful 17th century Japan, where unemployed samurai warriors were forced to beg alms from feudal lords through the supposedly empty ritual of offering to commit ritual suicide. When such a samurai is forced by a lord to actually commit hara-kiri rather than being given alms, his father-in-law Tatsuya Nakadai seeks revenge. Kobayashi turns the sacred code of bushido inside out, pointing out that the notions of honor and obedience it exalts can easily be twisted to serve evil ends. Although it excoriates empty ritual, the film is permeated with the sense that the protagonist is enacting something like a holy rite, and the atmosphere is galvanized by the great Nakadai, who gives a performance of almost frighteningly controlled intensity. Not to be ignored is the impact of the carefully composed black-and-white photography of Yoshio Miyajima, a key component of this astonishing film.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/23/2005
UPC:
0037429207321
Original Release:
1963
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
2:13:00
Sales rank:
420

Special Features

New, restored high-definition digital transfer; Exclusive video introduction by Japanese-film historian Donald Richie; Original theatrical trailer; New and improved English subtitle translation; Rare excerpt of a Directors Guild of Japan video interview with director Masaki Kobayashi conducted by filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda (Double Suicide); New video interviews with star Tatsuya Nakadai and screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto; Poster gallery; A 32-page booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Joan Mellen and a reprint of her 1972 interview with Kobayashi

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tatsuya Nakadai Hanshiro Tsugumo
Akira Ishihama Motome Chijiiwa
Shima Iwashita Miho Tsugumo
Tetsuro Tamba Hikokuro Omodaka
Rentaro Mikuni Kageyu Saito
Yoshio Inaba Jinai Chijiiwa
Masao Mishima Tango Inaba
Hisashi Igawa Young Samurai
Yoshio Aoki Umenosuke Kawabe
Jo Azumi Ichiro Shimmen
Shouji Kobayashi Actor
Ichiro Nakaya Hayato Yazaki
Kei Sato Masakazu Fukushima

Technical Credits
Masaki Kobayashi Director
Shinobu Hashimoto Screenwriter
Tatsuo Hosoya Producer
Seiji Iho Consultant/advisor
Yoshio Miyajima Cinematographer
Jun-Ichi Ozumi Art Director
Hisashi Sagara Editor
Toru Takemitsu Score Composer
Shigemasa Toda Art Director

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Disc 1: The Film
1. Arrival [4:14]
2. Request [4:56]
3. Doubts [3:51]
4. Robes [4:55]
5. Boon [3:17]
6. Bamboo [4:40]
7. Crosswise [5:57]
8. Intentions [2:15]
9. Second [5:42]
10. Acquaintance [4:11]
11. Abolished [3:10]
12. Indisposed [4:56]
13. Forced [8:30]
14. Changes [7:29]
15. Kingo [6:06]
16. Helpless [7:41]
17. Waiting [3:20]
18. Return [6:14]
19. Worthless [3:03]
20. Alone [9:56]
21. Knots [5:02]
22. Plains [9:02]
23. Steel [5:50]
24. Honor [2:08]
25. Fiction [2:45]
26. Prosperity [3:27]
Side #2 -- Disc 2: The Supplements
1. Twenties [1:26]
2. Unsure [3:13]
3. Persistence [3:05]
4. Right [:54]
5. Real [2:24]
6. Competition [2:22]
1. Poster [4:04]
2. Critique [1:19]
3. Flashbacks [1:33]
4. Uncompromising [2:37]
5. Inhabited [:42]
6. Smart [1:27]

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Harakiri 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this film stands as one of the greatest Japanese costume dramas ever. It certainly does rival anything Kurosawa did, and I love his films. The story shreds the very concept of Samurai honor in immediate human terms. You can taste the tension rise and the climactic finish is unforgetable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Unlike previous reviewers, I'll err on the side of caution and call this an equal to Kurosawa's best. In contrast to many Samurai period pieces, this film has a decidedly existential quality , a characteristic more in tune with Mizoguchi's "Sansho the Bailiff" or Kurosawa's "Ikiru". In Kobayashi's 17th century Japan, notions of Samurai honor are manipulated to suit political ends as masterless Samurai wander the street in search of a place in this changing and unapologetic Japan. Enter our two anti-heroes, Motome Chijiiwa and Hanshiro Tsugumo who (as we are shown through a series of flash backs)have paid the ultimate price in the name of their honor. Very Highly recommended
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kobaiyashi is a master filmmaker. This is a masterpiece. This is better than anything Kurosawa has done.