Burmese Harp (1956)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Kon Ichikawa's Harp of Burma is an anti-war film about a Japanese soldier who decides to reject his superiors and bury the bodies of his slain comrades. The film is also known as Burmese Harp.
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


Rentaro Mikuni
as Captain
Tatsuya Mihashi
as Defense Commander
Tanie Kitabayashi
as Old Woman
Yunosuke Ito
as Village head
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News & Interviews for Burmese Harp

Critic Reviews for Burmese Harp

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (1)

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.

Full Review… | October 23, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top 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
Little White Lies

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

Full Review… | July 1, 2010
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

This is the pic that brought international acclaim to Ichikawa.

Full Review… | March 9, 2009
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.

Full Review… | December 30, 2008

most gentle of war dramas

Full Review… | April 28, 2007
Old School Reviews

Audience Reviews for Burmese Harp

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.

Lucas Martins
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.

Jan Marc Macababayao
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.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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