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Harakiri (1962)

Seppuku (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Drama, History | 4 August 1964 (USA)
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.

Director:

Masaki Kobayashi

Writers:

Shinobu Hashimoto (screenplay), Yasuhiko Takiguchi (novel) | 1 more credit »
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8 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tatsuya Nakadai ... Hanshiro Tsugumo
Akira Ishihama Akira Ishihama ... Motome Chijiiwa
Shima Iwashita ... Miho Tsugumo
Tetsurô Tanba ... Hikokuro Omodaka
Masao Mishima Masao Mishima ... Tango Inaba
Ichirô Nakatani ... Hayato Yazaki
Kei Satô Kei Satô ... Masakazu
Yoshio Inaba Yoshio Inaba ... Jinai Chijiiwa
Hisashi Igawa ... Retainer
Tôru Takeuchi Tôru Takeuchi ... Retainer
Yoshirô Aoki Yoshirô Aoki ... Umenosuke Kawabe
Tatsuo Matsumura
Akiji Kobayashi
Kôichi Hayashi Kôichi Hayashi
Ryûtarô Gomi Ryûtarô 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

Taglines:

The World Has Never Understood Why the Japanese Prefer Death to Dishonor! See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | History

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

4 August 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Harakiri See more »

Filming Locations:

Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shochiku See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list. See more »

Goofs

After Motome's seppuku, when Omodaka steps forward and chops Motome's head off (supposedly), he visibly stops his swing before striking Motome's neck (naturally, since real swords were used). See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Movies from Japan (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Does to the Samurai genre what Wild Bunch did to the Western!
7 October 2005 | by OttoVonBSee all my reviews

Having seen this film the mind becomes clouded with the innumerable things to say about it. Only praise comes to mind. Kobayashi has crafted The great samurai film for the rebel generation and he mixes a deftly handled criticism of authoritarian hypocrisy with a very touching piece of human drama.

The plot is deceptively simple: an old samurai (touchingly portrayed by Tatsuya Nakadai of "Ran", "Kagemusha" and "Sword of Doom") arrives at a clan castle to commit seppuku in their yard, and then tells his tale, seemingly trying to gain time at first. What seems to be the rambling of an old man soon turns out to be a grieving account of how this man (and, more significantly, his loved ones) was wronged by the clan. Then comes the violent revenge (this is where you think "Wild Bunch with katanas", though they do up the ante toward the end with guns...).

Kobayashi's direction is masterful, keeping an unbearable suspense during the mostly talky film, handling the touching scenes with care and maturity and giving us a sweeping fight to top all that. The 133 minutes running time never feels half that long! At the heart of it all though, is Nakadai, who, despite an excellent CV, delivers his greatest performance ever. His Tsugumo evokes a wounded panther, grieving an grieving until it gives in to fury. Nakadai's performance alone marks the film as essential viewing.

If you're open to samurai flicks, this will rank among the finest films you've ever seen.


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