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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:

Award Winner Cannes Festival 1963 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:

Shôchiku Eiga 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

Referenced in Jeanie's Magic Box (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Gem of Japanese Cinema
13 April 2006 | by lstrawserSee 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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