This could be an alternative title for this masterpiece. Few films ever had on me such an effect as "Harakiri" and made me so much think about human life and how fragile it is as well as about happiness and how precious - and always too short - are the moments we enjoy it.
I will not reveal anything about the story, but I think it is worthy to describe the first 30 seconds, which immediately nailed me to the seat by making me realise that I was watching a unique master piece.
So here they are: it begins with an old book in Japanese being opened somewhere in the middle and a calm voice reading: "This day of year 1630, in the morning, men came from the village to present gifts of fish to the castle. No other official business occurred. However, later that day, a well spoken and polite although malnurished and poorly clothed ronin presented himself at the gate with a most unusual request..."
What follows is the story of a tragedy so heartbreaking that even Victor Hugo in "Les Miserables" didn't manage to equal it. It is also the story of an unjustice so disgusting that it would probably make Dickens and Zola weep like teenage girlies... And finally it is the story of a vengeance so mean and terrible that it makes "Death Wish" series look as a Disney movie in comparison -and even more remarkable is the fact that this revenge doesn't include ANY deaths and, still better, not even one drop of blood is spilled... Curious, isn't it? Well, the only way to find the solution of this riddle, is to watch the movie.
What was written above doesn't mean that this film is easy to watch - the title is not metaphoric, so be prepared to at least one scene that is purely horrible! Some swordfighting is also involved, but if this is what you are looking for in samurai movies, don't bother even beginning watching this one - the sword fighting is so much NOT the point here!
Masaki Kobayashi is one of the major Japanese movie makers and "Harakiri" is his masterpiece. It easily matches every Kurosawa movie, and - I hardly can believe that I am writing it - it can be even better than "Seven Samurai"! Both movies are of course very different, but if I had to choose only one to preserve for posterity from certain destruction, I would face a really tough choice. And all my life I considered "Seven Samurai" as THE perfect movie - until I finally saw this one...
All actors are doing great in "Harakiri" but it is of course Tatsuya Nakadai who has the greatest responsability and plays the hardest part as (yes, you guessed right) this mysterious "well spoken and polite although malnurished and poorly clothed ronin". This kind of acting is clearly inspired somewhere very high (or somewhere very low) but clearly it is not permitted to regular earthlings to reach such level of perfection... At every minute of the movie Tatsuya Nakadai could spoil it by any kind of little mistake - but he never made one.
I really do not see what else could I tell, so just one little warning. This is not a movie for a Friday evening with your girlfriend. First, she will probably run away after first 30 minutes to cry in her room. If she doesn't, dump her - she is certainly not a human female at all and probably devours males after mating. And if by any miracle you manage to watch this movie together until the end, you can certainly expect that she will need lot of cuddling later, but that will be it. I can not imagine any romance developping in the 24-48 hours following the watching of this movie... "Harakiri" will give you a great satisfaction (pun very much intentional), but not one of Friday evening variety.
This is an important and unique movie. At least once in a lifetime everybody should watch it.
on 21 July 2013
I saw this movie when I was a teenager in Romania. I could not snap out of it for 2 weeks. Masaki Kobayashi showed me with this movie what was important in life, the values one human should have in life. Later, in Great Britain, I learned about the creator of the movie, what kind of man he was. I realised that he transmitted me in this movie what kind of man Masaki Kobayashi was. I bow myself to this movie, its message and to Masaki Kobayashi. Thank you, Masaki Kobayashi: you have been one of the greatest humanitarians.
on 23 January 2011
One of the most restraint pictures I've ever seen. Like a theatrical drama. It takes 1 hour 45 minutes before any visual action takes place, but that's not the point here. We deal whit a director who has developed beyond that kind of "up front" storytelling. Instead this story slowly creeps upon you from a marvellous script and super duper acting.
The picture quality is beyond belief! Why fuzz about bluray when you actually can have this quality on DVD? It all comes down to the quality of the negative print used AND the process of transfering (the quality of the equipment). If every DVD-company put their every effort into this process we would'nt need blueray at all...
A must for every serious filmfan!
on 20 October 2011
I wasn't really prepared for the emotional impact of this magnnificent film, I was completely blown away. The narrative is expertly crafted to keep the viewer watching and the cinematography is wonderul. The fighting is kept to a minimum as this film is really a examination of codes of honour and loyalty. I have to admit i had tears rolling down my face by the end, wonderful, just wonderful. The best samurai film of I have seen and a wonderful introduction to the work of Kobayashi
on 29 January 2011
This is a work a great importance; It is one of the most profound films ever. Both in its narrative and in style. "Harakiri" is a timeless masterpiece. As well as Masaki Kobayashi's "Kwaidan", "The Human Condition", this is a vision of great depth and texture. Harakiri is a serious film.