Burmese Harp (1956)
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Critic Reviews for Burmese Harp
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.
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.
Thoroughly engrossing in its humanism and often heartbreakingly beautiful in both tone and image.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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