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Biruma no Tategoto (The Burmese Harp)

Biruma no Tategoto (The Burmese Harp) (1956)


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Critic Reviews: 1
Fresh: 0 | Rotten: 1



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Movie Info

Set against the final days of World War II, The Burmese Harp portrays the experiences of a group of exhausted, war-scarred Japanese soldiers as they prepare to return to Japan. The film focuses on Shoji Yasui, a soldier known to his comrades for his harp playing, who fails to convince a resistant company to surrender and is presumed dead when a battle destroys their hillside encampment. To rejoin his fellow soldiers, Shoji steals the robes of a Buddhist monk and begins to make his way across the

Mar 13, 2007

Criterion Collection

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Latest News on Biruma no Tategoto (The Burmese Harp)

February 15, 2008:
Kon Ichikawa: 1915-2008
Kon Ichikawa, the Japanese director whose work on 1956's The Burmese Harp earned him an Oscar...


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All Critics (13) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (1) | DVD (3)

Kon Ichikawa's 1956 antiwar film was widely hailed at the time of its release for its power and commitment, though by today's standards it's likely to appear uncomfortably didactic.

October 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

much like the soldier Mizushima dressed in the robes of a Buddhist monk, Ichikawa's war film tries on borrowed spiritualist attire and finds that it is an unexpectedly perfect fit.

February 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Thoroughly engrossing in its humanism and often heartbreakingly beautiful in both tone and image.

July 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

This is the pic that brought international acclaim to Ichikawa.

March 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Nominated in the first year of the foreign-language Oscar, Ichikawa's art film was innovative at the time with its anti-war spiritual message and lyrical imagery.

December 30, 2008 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

most gentle of war dramas

April 28, 2007 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

The Burmese Harp, just as the titular instrument suggests songs without filling them out, is a slight film that suggests the heavy human toll of war without actually presenting it.

April 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Fascinating stuff.

March 21, 2007 Full Review Source:

From start to finish, there's a stirring humanism to Ichikawa's little seen classic. A powerful and affecting anti-war movie.

March 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Film4

This lyrical antiwar film is the picture that brought the brilliant Japanese director international renown.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Biruma no Tategoto (The Burmese Harp)

Little too moralizing and sentimental for my tastes. Some nice compositions though...
May 18, 2009

Super Reviewer

A beautiful and moving film, Biruma no Tategoto (The Burmese Harp) is a terrific work by Mr. Ichikawa. With unforgettable actings, just like the screenplay and photography, the movie is an obligatory art film, that presents a powerful antiwar message. Fresh.
January 1, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

A Kon Ichikawa work charged with sincerity and depth, The Burmese Harp explores the fraternal relationship in a brethren of World War II Japanese soldiers. Passionate. Melodious. Spiritual. Powerful. Enlightened.
September 9, 2011
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer

In order to wage war, in order for human beings to kill other human beings on a massive scale, there must be some rationalization. Historically, we, as warriors, create in our minds a caricature of those we call our enemies. It's a phenomenon that's universal and cross-cultural. We see those who oppose us as less than human, as men who don't laugh, men who don't shed tears, men who are essentially evil. In this manner they become non-people. In this manner we need not have sympathy or guilt when we destroy them. The Burmese Harp, a product of post-war Japan released in 1956, breaks down this wall of propaganda and reminds us of the toll that war takes on the souls of men.

Its been called an "anti-war" film but I'm not so sure that was foremost in the minds of those who brought this story to the screen. It seems, in retrospect, to be more of a soldier's portrait that has been stripped of its patriotic facade. Whatever their intent, the film makers have given us an under-rated gem that should not be missed.
November 13, 2009
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • The Burmese Harp (Biruma no tategoto) (1956) (DE)
  • The Burmese Harp (UK)
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