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Harakiri (1962)
"Seppuku" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Action, Drama, History  |  4 August 1964 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 17,002 users  
Reviews: 186 user | 71 critic

An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.



(screenplay), (novel), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Akira Ishihama ...
Tetsurô Tanba ...
Hikokuro Omodaka
Masao Mishima ...
Tango Inaba
Ichirô Nakatani ...
Hayato Yazaki
Kei Satô ...
Yoshio Inaba ...
Jinai Chijiiwa
Hisashi Igawa ...
Tôru Takeuchi ...
Yoshirô Aoki ...
Umenosuke Kawabe
Tatsuo Matsumura
Akiji Kobayashi
Kôichi Hayashi
Ryûtarô Gomi


Peace in 17th-century Japan causes the Shogunate's breakup of warrior clans, throwing thousands of samurai out of work and into poverty. An honorable end to such fate under the samurai code is ritual suicide, or hara-kiri (self-inflicted disembowelment). An elder warrior, Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai) seeks admittance to the house of a feudal lord to commit the act. There, he learns of the fate of his son-in-law, a young samurai who sought work at the house but was instead barbarically forced to commit traditional hara-kiri in an excruciating manner with a dull bamboo blade. In flashbacks the samurai tells the tragic story of his son-in-law, and how he was forced to sell his real sword to support his sick wife and child. Tsugumo thus sets in motion a tense showdown of revenge against the house. Written by Kevin Rayburn <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Action | Drama | History


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Release Date:

4 August 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Harakiri  »

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


While filming, Tatsuya Nakadai was afraid during most of the sword and spear fighting scenes because real swords were being used, a practice now forbidden in Japanese films. His concern was not alleviated even though professional swordsmen were employed during the choreographed swordplay. See more »


Hanshiro Tsugumo: The greatest delicacies taste of nothing when one dines alone.
See more »


Version of Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Disharmony of Sword and Pen
21 March 2007 | by (Virginia, USA) – See all my reviews

I've said it once about another movie, incidentally by the other great Japanese director as well and I want to repeat my words in regard to "Harakiri": "There are good, very good, and even great movies. But among them there are just a few that go beyond great. They belong to the league of their own". Masaki Kobayashi's "Harakiri" aka "Seppuku" is one of them. The film of rare power and humanism, of highest artistic achievements, profoundly moving, tragic like the best Shakespeare's plays, universal and timeless even if it takes place in the faraway country of 1630, by the words of one of the reviewers "Harakiri" "is to cinema as the Sistine Chapel is to painting. Unsurpassable!"

The film grabbed me from the very first shot, from its opening credits with their perfect harmony of kanji (I believe it is a correct word to describe the writings) characters, with the unusual disturbing score and with the dark beauty of the images. And then the story begins that centers on Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai), one of hundreds or maybe even thousands unemployed lord less samurais, ronin, that in the blessed times of peace had not many choices to adjust to new life and often preferred to commit a ritual suicide, hara-kiri or seppuku on the property of the wealthy estate owners. According to Bushido, the way of the samurai, "One who is a samurai must before all things keep constantly in mind, by day and by night . . . the fact that he has to die. That is his chief business."

At the same time, samurai and anti-samurai film, "Harakiri" offers the masterfully screened scenes of sword-fights, not plentiful but exquisitely choreographed, perfectly paced and unbearably intense but the film is much more than that. It is also a gripping court drama where the truth is unfolded in the flashbacks. The viewers are allowed to look closer at the noble Samurai code of behavior and to reflect on how its abuse impacts the fate of an individual and the society in general. Compelling, poetic, and tragic, the movie has one of the most pessimistic endings ever that makes you wonder how the history is made, how the historical events are interpreted and who decides what would be written in the chronicles and important documents and what would be left out.

A Masterpiece, one of the best movies ever made, "Harakiri" deserves all its praise. It is not in my nature to force my opinion on anyone but if you call yourself a movie buff or a movie lover, you MUST see this film.

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