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Harakiri (Criterion) (Blu-Ray)

Tatsuya Nakadai , Rentaro Mikuni , Masaki Kobayashi    Unrated   Blu-ray
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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Product Description


Dramatically compelling and emotionally intense, Harakiri is a certified classic of Japanese film, and a riveting study of samurai codes of honor. Unlike Kurosawa's rousing samurai epics, this is an uncompromisingly tragic tale, exposing the hypocrisy of 17th-century Japanese society with its story of a family destroyed by the cruelty of feudalism toward warriors in peacetime. The film is truly Shakespearean in its emotional scope, embodied by the unforgettable performance of Tatsuya Nakadai (star of Kurosawa's Ran) as an elder warrior seeking revenge for the unnecessary seppuku (ritual suicide) of his beloved son-in-law. Director Masaki Kobayashi begins at story's end, then recounts the narrative (adapted from a novel by Yasuhiko Takiguchi) as told by Nakadai's character. The effect is almost unbearably suspenseful, leading to an explosive climax of supreme defiance and samurai swordplay, erupting from a battle of wills, called bluffs, and hotly defended honor. For connoisseurs of samurai action, Harakiri is not to be missed. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

Following the collapse of his clan, an unemployed samurai (Ran’s Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi, begging to be allowed to commit ritual suicide on the property. Iyi’s clansmen, believing the desperate ronin is merely angling for a new position, try to force his hand and get him to eviscerate himself—but they have underestimated his beliefs and his personal brand of honor. Winner of the 1963 Cannes Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize, Harakiri, directed by Masaki Kobayashi (The Human Condition) is a fierce evocation of individual agency in the face of a corrupt and hypocritical system.

BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack • Video introduction by Japanese-film historian Donald Richie • Excerpt from a rare Directors Guild of Japan video interview with director Masaki Kobayashi, moderated by filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda • Video interviews with star Tatsuya Nakadai and screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto • Original theatrical trailer • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Joan Mellen and a reprint of a 1972 interview by Mellen with Kobayashi

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars original bushido flic Nov. 4 2011
This will satisfy the art-house movie goer and the action gore slasher fan at the same time. The story moves along slowly towards a climactic battle scene with an ending full of irony. Themes of death, self sacrifice, bushido code, family devotion, friendship, honour all rolled into one. Somebody should remake this movie, but hard to see how it could be improved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind June 12 2011
This movie is such a classic it's shocking. Great acting, great script, great story. It shows the hypocrisy of the Samurai clan system and how their world was falling apart.

Japan took a pounding in WWII because they tried bringing back the outdated Bushido Warrior Code. MacArthur pushed for the atomic bomb because the Japanese soldiers refused to surrender. If the soldiers ran out of bullets they were expected to attack with the spirit. This makes good anime but has disastrous results on the battlefield. I look upon this as one of the many Japanese films that reflected on the disaster of WWII.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you look at yourself. Sept. 23 2007
I had the opportunity to see this at a movie theater and loved it. Apart from the technical aspects, the one thing that I found most powerful about this film is that it forces you to look at how you react to things (this is rare in a film of any genre or period). Without giving away the story, during the beginning when the young man goes to the school, I, along with I think everyone else in the audience judging by their reaction, felt that he was lying about leaving then coming back, and almost felt like he deserved the fate the samurai force upon him. However, as the story unfolds, you realize he was telling the truth, and your opinion of the man completely changes. You find out why he was going to leave, and definitely sympathize with him and his family. Although I love Kurosawa and Ozu's films, I don't recall ever being struck by any of their work as emotionally as I was while watching this film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Offers a brutally real depiction of Bushido July 5 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I had been wanting to see Seppuku (harakiri) for some time, and as my first rental with zip.ca I was quite exited. I turned it on, and was simply stunned by its sheer power, realism and quality. It featured little of what Kurosawa had brought to the genre, but rather offered a heartwrenching portrait of the futility of a lifestyle that preys upon the helpless. I sat there mesmerized by the brilliance of Kobayashi's direction and Nakadai's performance, together they provided a level of realism that I didn't think was possible with such a robust genre.

I felt almost the same way I had after viewing The Wild Bunch. I mean this film totally changes the way I think of a samurai picture, but at the same time it does not detract from anything from the likes of The Seven Samurai or Sanjuro. To say the least I found Seppuku to be an impressive film. I don't give very many 10/10s, but it certainly does deserve that rating.

What The Seven Samurai is to The Searchers, Seppuku is to The Wild Bunch. 10/10.
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