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Harakiri (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1962)

Tatsuya Nakadai , Rentaro Mikuni , Masaki Kobayashi  |  NR |  Blu-ray
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)

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Harakiri (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + The Samurai Trilogy (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + Seven Samurai (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Tatsuya Nakadai, Rentaro Mikuni, Akira Ishihama
  • Directors: Masaki Kobayashi
  • Format: Blu-ray, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: October 4, 2011
  • Run Time: 133 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005D0RDCU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,045 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special 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 the director

Video interviews with star Tatsuya Nakadai and screenwriter

Original theatrical trailer

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Joan Mellen and more!


Editorial Reviews

Following the collapse of his clan, an unemployed samurai (Ran's Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi, begging to commit ritual suicide on his property. Iyi's clansmen, believing the desperate ronin is merely angling for a new position, try to force 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
183 of 187 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
"Hara Kiri" is directly translated as "belly cutting," and is the name best known in the West for Seppuku, a traditional act of suicide that was considered an honorable method of death amongst the Samurai of medieval Japan. To die by Seppuku was a privilege reserved for honorable men, and was formal and ritualized as is common in Japanese tradition. It was an extremely painful way to die, and required absolute will and self-control.

Kobayashi Masaki ("Kwaidan," "Samurai Rebellion"), a master director of Samurai films, uses this ritual as the focus of his film "Hara Kiri" (Japanese title "Seppuku.") The stage is set in the late Tokugawa period, a time when centuries of peace had rendered the warrior class moot, and Samurai without a rich lord to serve had nothing but their honor to sustain themselves. Forbidden by law, culture and training to seek their substance through less-honorable means such as farming or trade, the lordless Samurai were expected to starve and die with no word of complaint. One day, a hungry Samurai by the name of Hanshiro Tsugumo arrives at the gate of a local lord, requesting permission to perform Seppuku and end his suffering poverty through honorable means. And then the true story unfolds.

Probably his greatest film, Kobayashi dissects what it is to be "honorable," and who is the true possessor of this abstract concept. The rigid code of the Samurai is symbolized through the relentless use of straight lines, as hard and unyielding as the swords which are the supposed soul of a Samurai. The code has long outlived its usefulness, and is a contradiction in the world of peace. Both the code and the men are dinosaurs, needing to either change or die.
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Samurai Code Of Honor: A Timeless Classic! January 1, 2007
Format:DVD
"Hara-Kiri," is an absolute classic. It is also one of the 3 greatest [if not greatest] Samurai films of all time. Not only is this a great Samurai film, it is also an outstanding drama. In fact, director Masaki Kobayashi stated that this film was more of an anti-samurai film, and he is correct. I must tread very carefully with this review, as to write too much of this film will destroy it for those of you who have not had the opportunity to see this MASTERPIECE of cinema. Directed by Masaki Kobayashi, the film deals with ONE individuals attack against the corruption and arrogance of the state. And in particular, one clan known as the House of Iyi, which is representative of the new unified state of Japan.

This is one of those films that transcends borders and nationalities--for it is universal. By this I mean that the films main protagonist, Hanshiro Tsugomo (Tatsuya Nakadai) represents the individual against the powers that be who are in charge. And in Hara-kiri, Hanshiro is about to give this House of Iyi a costly lesson in humility, with a touch of vengeance thrown in--that this clan's own arrogance has brought upon themselves. The period that this film takes place is circa 1630: not too long after Lord Tokugawa has established the Shogunate as the supreme power in the now unified Japan.

However, unification comes with a price. In order to consolidate his power, Tokugawa has purged many of the clans spread throughout Japan of their status. Therefore, many clans begin to fold up, and their Samurai must eke out a living within the confines of a profession befitting a samurai. This was very difficult to do, as farming was not acceptable to their Bushido code.
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Matters Touching the Honor of the Iyi Clan May 23, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
After Japan emerged from its civil wars in the early 17th century, many clans were banned by the victorious Tokugawa Shogunate. Thousands of samurai warriors who knew the arts of war but precious little else suddenly found themselves thrown out onto the street.
HARAKIRI tells of the chain of events set into motion when a destitute samurai goes to one of the remaining clans and offers to commit suicide according to the harakiri ritual. His real intent was to get a handout once the Iyi clan elder had seen his determination. This clan, however, had been hit up by other samurai in similar straits. The elder praises him and immediately has him prepare for suicide by disembowelment. When the young samurai requests a delay, the elder insists he begin immediately.
I do not want to ruin the picture for anyone by giving anything away. Some time later (though earlier in the film, which skips around with the chronological story), the young samurai's father-in-law -- also a samurai -- shows up at the gate making the same request. This time the samurai is the redoubtable Tatsuya Nakadai. His intention is revenge, and he damned near lays waste to the entire clan to attain it.
Kobayashi's direction of this elegant wide-screen epic may seem to be stodgy and talky at times, but the tale it tells will curdle the marrow of your bones. There is relatively little swordplay until Nakadai produces three small items from the folds of his kimono resulting in an all-against-one battle royal.
This is one of the greatest of all the samurai films. No Jacobean revenge tragedy by Cyril Tourneur or John Webster can hold a candle to it in its ferocity. Kobayashi's film is Shakespearean in its breadth and holds up well to multiple viewings. This is a letterboxed print, so you see ALL the action.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the original version of a classic film
Very classic old samurai movie from the 1960's. Kobayashi's film feel almost like a Kurosawa movie...... Just as good as Kurosawa!
Published 1 month ago by David T. Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the better samurai stories
Yes it is subtitled so LIVE WITH IT. However, it is one of the better samurai movies. It tells of a time when samurai were losing their masters and how they survived, but that is... Read more
Published 1 month ago by thomas champion
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies of all time
Anyone interested in watching this film for its timeless samurai action, or watching this film for its endless conversation/discussion value, or watching this film for an... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jeffrey
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed masterpiece
The Newbury_comics/Amazon delivery was flawless, but the film fell short of perfection. I like the story very well - even more so since I am a man or honor living in the DC area -... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Frank
5.0 out of 5 stars Why did I wait so long to finally watch this???
This was not my first Masaki Kobayashi film, rather it's actually one of the last of his films I've viewed. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Christopher Barrett
5.0 out of 5 stars Give it a try
Ever find yourself up watching a foreign film? Well, this classic Japanese film will not let you down. This is one of my favorites, and you will enjoy it.
Published 4 months ago by L. Knight
5.0 out of 5 stars A Film So Good It Makes Other Filmmakers Want To Kill Themselves
In C.S. Lewis's classic The Screwtape Letters, one demon says to another demon that "It will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by 'religion' ever vanishes from the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by TipsWithALip
5.0 out of 5 stars Harakiri
I saw this movie when it first came out, my dad worked for the theater so I got to see it as a kid. I wanted to see it again as an adult now that I can understand the history and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by 2hawk feathers
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best
This film is intriguing from beginning to end. Masterfully directed to keep the viewer enthralled and superbly performed by all. Read more
Published 9 months ago by annabella
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable story
Unlike many other samurai movies I have seen, this one stays in my mind. It is a great story, but the seppuku
scene with the bamboo sword is not for the squeamish!
Published 9 months ago by Onix
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