Burmese Harp

The Burmese Harp

4.6 3
Director: Kon Ichikawa, Shoji Yasui, Rentaro Mikuni, Tatsuya Mihashi

Cast: Kon Ichikawa, Shoji Yasui, Rentaro Mikuni, Tatsuya Mihashi

     
 
Released at the same time as Criterion's excellent DVD edition of Kon Ichikawa's Fires On The Plain, this presentation of Ichikawa's gentler but equally powerful meditation on the toll of war has been given a similarly strong treatment. The Burmese Harp has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the images look

Overview

Released at the same time as Criterion's excellent DVD edition of Kon Ichikawa's Fires On The Plain, this presentation of Ichikawa's gentler but equally powerful meditation on the toll of war has been given a similarly strong treatment. The Burmese Harp has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the images look excellent, replicating the elegant cinematography of Minoru Yokoyama without missing a single missing. The audio, in Japanese, has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and makes the most of the source materials, with Akira Ifukube's score sounding especially impressive. Optional subtitles in English are included, with are clear and easy on the eyes. Among the bonus features included for this release are new interviews with director Ichikawa and leading man Rentaro Mikuni, the film's original Japanese trailer, and a thoughtful essay on the picture from film historian Tony Rayns. Criterion's recent emphasis on classic Asian cinema is more than welcome, and this is a beautiful presentation of a towering work in the history of Japanese film that's well worth your time and attention.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Though exceptions abound, from The Best Years of Our Lives and The Story of G.I. Joe through the readily explicable rise of film noir, the most visible American portrayals of World War II in the years following its conclusion tended not to dwell too heavily on the psychological or spiritual impact of the war experience. While it is reductive to credit Japanese filmmakers as a whole with a boldness wanting in their American counterparts -- Joseph Anderson and Donald Richie dismiss most war films of the period as "frank audience exploitation" -- one look at The Burmese Harp with its mounds upon mounds of untended corpses is enough to grant that impression. But while graphic, Kon Ichikawa's film has more on its mind than immersing its viewers in the horrors of war (for that experience, see the director's harrowing Fires on the Plain). Almost immediately upon its release, Harp rightfully earned a reputation as one of the finest and most succinct statements of humanism. Portraying war as a profound violation of the human spirit, it at times resembles Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory, particularly in its use of music. But Ichikawa's mastery of moments both grand (a beach awash in corpses) and small (the gentle interactions between the soldiers and the friendships they form with their by-all-rights unfriendly hosts), instantly sets his work apart. The pace is sometimes inadequate, perhaps due to some invasive editing, but only a slab of stone could fail to be moved by the film as a whole and by the heart-rending finale in particular.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/13/2007
UPC:
0715515022729
Original Release:
1956
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
1:56:00
Sales rank:
23,796

Special Features

New restored high-definition digital transfer; New video interviews with director Kon Ichikawa and actor Rentaro Mikuni; Original theatrical trailer; New and imporved English subtitle translation; Plus: A new essay by renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- the Burmese Harp - The Criterion Collection
1. Battalion Song [6:50]
2. "All Clear" [3:55]
3. Unexpected Reception [4:52]
4. "Home, Sweet Home" [6:01]
5. Mizushima's Mission [4:46]
6. Thirty Minutes [9:45]
7. MIA [3:45]
8. The Priest [7:11]
9. "Burma Is the Buddha's Country" [6:23]
10. Burning the Dead [4:26]
11. Poor Souls [3:47]
12. "I Know Now..." [6:43]
13. Burmese Ruby [1:47]
14. "That's How Mizushima Played It" [2:25]
15. The Parrot Speaks [4:48]
16. White Box [5:12]
17. Inside the Buddha [3:54]
18. Old Woman Honors a Request [5:02]
19. Song of Farewell [5:05]
20. The Other Parrot [6:13]
21. Returning Home [2:30]
22. "My Captain and Brothers at Arms" [2:25]
23. A Penitent Wanderer Always [6:01]
25. Chapter 25 [:00]

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The Burmese Harp 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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