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Harakiri (1962)
"Seppuku" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Action, Drama, History  |  4 August 1964 (USA)
8.7
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 16,541 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.

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Title: Harakiri (1962)

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Cast

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

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 <kprayb01@homer.louisville.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Drama | History

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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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?

Trivia

The clan featured in the film, the Ii (sometimes spelled Iyi) have produced one of the most important and controversial figures of modern Japanese history: Ii Naosuke, Chief policymaker of the Tokugawa Shogunate best known for signing the Harris Treaty with the United States, granting access to ports for trade to American merchants and seamen and extraterritoriality to American citizens. See more »

Quotes

[repeated line]
Hanshiro Tsugumo: Motome Chijiiwa was a man of some acquaintance to me.
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Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
A Gem of Japanese Cinema
13 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Harakiri is an excellent human drama set in feudal Japan that involves a ronin presenting himself to a powerful clan and asking to commit harikiri. However, through a series of flashbacks we see that this ronin is motivated by more than the idea of dying honorably. The events that follow are a critique of the feudal system and a celebration of dying for one's beliefs.

Every frame in Harikiri is wonderfully composed and a treat to view. The cinematography is crisp, the sets wonderful and the actors are spectacular. Much can be said about this film's technical merits as well as its social implications. I found out about this film through my love of Akira Kurosawa's samurai dramas (who else...) and I must say that it is very different from Kurosawa-sans work although it draws inevitable comparisons. Due to its themes, Harikiri is more of an anti samurai film. Generally Kurosawa's work seems to glorify the honor of the samurai and celebrate them as Japanese heroes by showing them gloriously in battle. Kurosawa is the Japanese John Ford, taking an icon from his culture and celebrating it. Harikiri exposes the virtues that Kurosawa portrays as being "a facade" to directly quote the film.

I say this so as not to mislead any potential viewers, I do not know enough about Japanese history to judge what the samurai really stood for and really I am not concerned with the idea. This is the only Kobyashi film I have seen and it has been brought to my attention that many of his films deal with similar themes. All in all I think that Harikiri is a wonderful film that offers a new take on feudal Japan.


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