Monday, March 23, 2009

Harakiri - 切腹

Harakiri - 切腹 is a 1962 film out of Japan based in the the 17th century. It's quite an interesting film. Here's the synopsis from the Criteion Collection website:
Following the collapse of his clan, unemployed samurai Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi, begging to commit ritual suicide on his property. Iyi’s clansmen, believing the desperate ronin is merely angling for charity, try to force him to eviscerate himself—but they have underestimated his honor and his past. Winner of the 1963 Cannes Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize, Masaki Kobayashi’s Harakiri is a scathing denouncement of feudal authority and hypocrisy.

I enjoyed this film for its old black and white feel and for the twist and turns in the story telling. Almost a spin off the Rashomon's episodic telling of the story from different points of view. It's a mystery to unravel, but you're not quite sure what the truth is.

I'll be honest, it took a lot of brain power to watch this film. First, its in Japanese so you have read the subtitles and try to follow images. The story is dense and complex with many many characters. If you're not prepared to put on your thinking cap, the movie will confuse you. I had to re-watch many scenes so I could read the lines and than watch the images.

You can pick this up on Amazon or Netflix.

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