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

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Music, War  |  28 April 1967 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 3,842 users  
Reviews: 40 user | 44 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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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rentarô Mikuni ...
Captain Inouye
Jun Hamamura ...
Taketoshi Naitô ...
Kobayashi (as Takeo Naito)
Shunji Kasuga ...
Kô Nishimura ...
Baba (as Akira Nishimura)
Keishichi Nakahara ...
Toshiaki Ito ...
Hiroshi Hijikata ...
Tomio Aoki ...
Norikatsu Hanamura ...
Sanpei Mine ...
Takashi Koshiba ...
Tomoko Tonai
Tokuhei Miyahara ...


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

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Drama | Music | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

28 April 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Burmese Harp  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Viewers familiar with the 1954 film, Gojira (Godzilla), may recognize many of the cues present in The Burmese Harp's soundtrack, as composer Akira Ifukube adapted Godzilla's requiem theme into several pieces heard throughout the film. See more »


The 'British' officer in charge of the funerary cremation repository speaks with a decidedly Australian, not British, accent. See more »


Mizushima: [to his parrot] Let's return to Japan together.
See more »


Featured in Burden of Love (1955) See more »


Kojo no Tsuki
Music by Rentero Taki
Soldiers sang In front of a large Buddha statue
See more »

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User Reviews

7 July 2000 | by See all my reviews

Very poignant anti-war statement, supported with passionate music and photography. A Japanese POW at the end of the war is separated from his comrades when he tries to coax some hold-outs to surrender. After disastrous results, he disguises as a Buddhist monk and is considered dead, wandering the countryside and continually confronted with the truly dead. His friends suspect he has survived and are disconsolate unless reunited with him. But before he can rejoin them, his journey gradually and painfully transforms him. He has a new mission and a new identity, his spiritual garb no longer a mere disguise.

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