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The Burmese Harp (1956)

Biruma no tategoto (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Music, War | 28 April 1967 (USA)
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.

Director:

Kon Ichikawa

Writers:

Michio Takeyama (novel), Natto Wada
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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 Rentarô Mikuni ... Captain Inouye
Shôji Yasui ... Mizushima
Jun Hamamura Jun Hamamura ... Ito
Taketoshi Naitô Taketoshi Naitô ... Kobayashi (as Takeo Naito)
Shunji Kasuga Shunji Kasuga ... Maki
Kô Nishimura Kô Nishimura ... Baba (as Akira Nishimura)
Keishichi Nakahara Keishichi Nakahara ... Takagi
Toshiaki Itô Toshiaki Itô ... Hashimoto
Hiroshi Hijikata Hiroshi Hijikata ... Okada
Tomio Aoki Tomio Aoki ... Oyama
Norikatsu Hanamura Norikatsu Hanamura ... Nakamura
Sanpei Mine Sanpei Mine ... Abe
Takashi Koshiba Takashi Koshiba ... Shimizu
Tomoko Tonai Tomoko Tonai
Tokuhei Miyahara Tokuhei Miyahara ... Nagai
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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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Burmese | Japanese | English

Release Date:

28 April 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Burmese Harp See more »

Filming Locations:

Burma See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Nikkatsu See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (part one) | (part two)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. 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

Captain Inouye: [Excerpt from Mizushima's letter, which Captain Inouye reads to his men as they sail back to Japan] As I climbed mountains and crossed streams, burying the bodies left in the grasses and streams, my heart was wracked with questions. Why must the world suffer such misery? Why must there be such inexplicable pain? As the days passed, I came to understand. I realized that, in the end, the answers were not for human beings to know, that our work is simply to ease the great suffering of the world. To...
See more »

Connections

Remade as The Burmese Harp (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

A unique use of WWII as a stage
5 June 2006 | by futures-1See 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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