When a ronin requesting seppuku at a feudal lord's palace is told of the brutal suicide of another ronin who previously visited, he reveals how their pasts are intertwined - and in doing so challenges the clan's integrity.
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
When Hanshiro first arrives at House Iyi he states that his master's house fell in 1619 (as translated in the subtitles) but he actually says Genna 5 (which is correct according to the calendar used in Japan at this time). Japan did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1873. The film was released and the subtitles made after Japan had already adopted the Gregorian calendar, however, so it made more sense for both Japanese and foreign audiences to render the year in Gregorian style. See more »
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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