Harakiri

1962

Harakiri

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 8

97%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,898
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Movie Info

In this Japanese drama, set in the 17th century, samurai warriors fight each other in their search for a master in the wake of a Shogun-mandated decentralization. A prospective victim is forced to perform the ritual with a wooden blade. His family tries to cover up his degrading demise.

Cast

Shima Iwashita
as Miho Tsugumo
Tatsuya Nakadai
as Hanshiro Tsugumo
Akira Ishihama
as Motome Chijiiwa
Yoshio Inaba
as Jinai Chijiiwa
Rentaro Mikuni
as Kageyu Saito
Masao Mishima
as Tango Inaba
Tetsuro Tamba
as Hikokuro Omodaka
Ichirô Nakaya
as Hayato Yazaki
Yoshio Aoki
as Umenosuke Kawabe
Jo Azumi
as Ichiro Shimmen
Hisashi Igawa
as Young Samurai
Shoji Kobayashi
as Young Samurai
Ryo Takeuchi
as Young Samurai
Kei Sato
as Masakazu Fukushima
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Critic Reviews for Harakiri

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (8)

Audience Reviews for Harakiri

  • Nov 30, 2016
    What is more dishonorable, out of work Samurai (Ronin) asking a clan to commit hara-kiri in their courtyard out of a desire to gain employment, with no intention of committing the act, or those in houses being cruel to them? When the country dishonors its Samurai, and they are driven to acts of desperation, leading to cruelty and further dishonor, the country spirals, and this movie set in 17th century seems to reflect decline in then present day (1962) Japan. The movie is quite beautiful visually, with traditional Japanese architecture and at one point a swaying bamboo forest framed beautifully by director Masaki Kobayashi. The story is taut and works on many levels, first and foremost as a vengeance with honor tale, which might remind you of an American Western, including a couple of epic battle scenes. It also has the individual man, disillusioned and saying that the Samurai code he lives by is a façade, and yet acting honorably, against a multitude misled by corrupt leaders. It's one against many in a battle that is timeless and certainly relevant today, and whose results are sadly akin to the entropy of the universe. "Who can know the depths of another man's heart?" the Samurai asks, signaling a need for empathy. Indeed.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 15, 2015
    Beautifully written, wonderfully directed and amazingly acted. Harakiri is a creative, inteligent and awesome film. One of the few movies you can call it perfect.
    Lucas M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 28, 2013
    Masaki Kobayashi's tormented drama is a timeless tale about the changing of times. How the lives we create, built on shifting sands, can so easily disintegrate with the advancement of a simple breeze. During the Edo Period, which saw the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate, peace and stability ruled the land. Forced to disband, many warrior clan released thousands of Ronin (lordless samurai) out into the land. Many became impoverished; stripped of their life's work. This particular story follows the aging warrior Hanshiro Tsugumo and his request to commit Hara-kiri on honorable grounds. There he is greeted by Umenosuke Kawabe, the feudal lord of the Lyi clan. Still drunk on the power and tradition of the Bushido Code, Umensokuke is intent on letting Hanshiro fulfill his request. Lately, there have been a slew of Ronin who in demanding honorable death; are really expecting coin. When Hanshiro inquires about a man who recently made a similar demand, a game of mental chess ensues between Hanshiro and Umenosuke. It soon becomes apparent that Hanshiro has a connection to a previous Ronin, Motome Chijiiwa, who recently spilled his own blood in this place and Kobayashi masterfully unravels the story through a series of flashbacks. Released during a time when "Chambara" (sword fighting films) were vogue, Kobayashi subverts the glamorization of the samurai genre. Through his protagonist, he reveals the Bushido code to be merely a facade. A societal adhesive that many clung to even when the ever-evolving society rendered it obsolete. He also undermines the glamor of Chambara pictures by revealing the stark reality of the "honorable" samurai culture. When Motome is forced to commit Hara-Kiri with a sword made of bamboo (he sold his real sword to help out his ailing son), it is agonizing to watch. Thrusting the dull blade into his gut over and over again, a swordsman stands by anxiously; waiting until he feels the ritual is complete before decapitating the poor soul. Using well placed dolly shots & canted angles, Kobayashi & cinematographer Yoshio Miyajima ratchet up the intensity. This coupled with a close-up of Motome's sweating brow as he laboriously impales himself - fully comprehending the horror of this act of "honor"- renders the viewer unable to find glory or honor in this act of self-immolation. Kobayashi frequently cuts to an image of armor that sits inside the Lyi palace to augment his message. Inside the armor is no living flesh. It is merely the relic of a bygone era. Sadly, many are unwilling to let go of the reigns, forcing their anachronism onto others in order to save face. It's a film that looks at humanity's capacity for change. In it, Kobayashi shows the viewer the folly of clinging to what is no longer; the irrationality of adhering to the impractical and the foolishness of coercing others to follow suit. For as the film warns: "What befalls others today, may be your own fate tomorrow."
    Reid V Super Reviewer
  • Jul 15, 2011
    One of the most beautiful and emotional Samurai films I have ever had the pleasure of watching! The story actually goes in a uniquely different portrayal of the Japanese feudal system and even of the Samurai code. It has a very human touch that is truly inspiring and heart wrenching all the same. With an intense and emotional buildup, the last half an hour really explodes into "an orgy of violence" as my good friend and frequent film watcher Brad said. The violence, unlike most modern films, is an expression of a means to an end and upholding personal honor for oneself and their family. It is justified and beautiful in it's savagery and blood lust. Tatsuya Nakadai does an amazing job and his portrayal of the down and out samurai is brilliant in it's complexity! This is truly a marvel to behold thanks to Criterion's stunning Blu-ray transfer of this gorgeous B&W film! Highly Highly Recommended!
    Chris B Super Reviewer

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