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The Burmese Harp (1956)
"Biruma no tategoto" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Music, War  |  28 April 1967 (USA)
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 3,668 users  
Reviews: 39 user | 43 critic

In the War's closing days, when a conscience-driven Japanese soldier fails to get his countrymen to surrender to overwhelming force, he adopts the lifestyle of a Buddhist monk.

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Title: The Burmese Harp (1956)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rentarô Mikuni ...
Captain Inouye
...
Mizushima
Jun Hamamura ...
Ito
Taketoshi Naitô ...
Kobayashi (as Takeo Naito)
Shunji Kasuga ...
Maki
Kô Nishimura ...
Baba (as Akira Nishimura)
Keishichi Nakahara ...
Takagi
Toshiaki Ito ...
Hashimoto
Hiroshi Hijikata ...
Okada
Tomio Aoki ...
Oyama
Norikatsu Hanamura ...
Nakamura
Sanpei Mine ...
Abe
Takashi Koshiba ...
Shimizu
Tomoko Tonai
Tokuhei Miyahara ...
Nagai
Edit

Storyline

Mizushima is a soldier in the Japanese army in Burma in World War II. He's a good soldier and frequently plays his harp to entertain his fellow soldiers. When the war comes to an end, he is asked by the British to go into the mountains to try and convince a Japanese troop to surrender. Given only 30 minutes to convince them, Mizushima is unsuccessful - they would rather die with honor - and the British attack. Deeply affected by what has happened, he becomes a Buddhist monk, traveling the countryside burying the remains of Japanese soldiers. He is unable however to rejoin his brothers-in-arms. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Music | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

28 April 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Burmese Harp  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was originally slated to shoot in three-strip color, but director Kon Ichikawa worried that the huge camera might break down on location and he would not be able to have it fixed, so he shot in black-and-white. See more »

Goofs

The modern harp (with its pedal changes and its consequent ability to make changes of harmony, in particular)that is played throughout on the film's soundtrack does not match the much more basic instrument shown in the film. See more »

Quotes

British officer: We've done all we can. The troops that took Triangle Mountain have returned home. The Japanese survivors are not in this town.
Captain Inouye: But that tune?
British officer: You hear a certain way of playing - a few notes floating by the breeze, and it's enough to make you think a dead man is alive. You must be dreaming.
British officer: [to his adjutant] He must be dreaming!
See more »

Connections

Remade as The Burmese Harp (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

Hanyuu no Yado
(Japanese Version of 'Home Sweet Home')
See more »

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User Reviews

A unique use of WWII as a stage
5 June 2006 | by (Ronn Ives/FUTURES Antiques, Norfolk, VA.) – See all my reviews

"The Burmese Harp" ("Biruma No Tategoto") (Japanese, 1956): What a powerful film. Directed by Kon Ichikawa ("Fires on the Plain"), this story is set during the last days of WWII, in Burma, with a troop of Japanese soldiers. They are weary, confused, but very bonded. When they learn their country has surrendered, with mixed emotions they submit and head to a P.O.W. camp to be detained until arrangements for their fates are made. One of them volunteers to go find a die-hard troop still "dug in" and unwilling to surrender, and ask them to give up, lest they be destroyed by who are now the victors. Thus begins his journey of spiritual awakening. Think of this as the story of Siddhartha, but on a clear, human level. It is gorgeous in its black & white compositions and lighting, slightly theatrical in its scenarios, and quite emotional. "The Burmese Harp" is a unique use of WWII as the stage for larger issues. Superb.


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