Harakiri (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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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!
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is hands down an amazing movie, full of emotion and epic themes.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Disturbing in it's brutality of how men view and treat each other. Highly recommended!Published 2 months ago by charles smith
Learned a lot about the dark japanese tradition! man.. it's the most noble thing for a warrior! so please, don't make fun of it!Published 7 months ago by Miguel Benavides
Outstanding. Simply magnificent film with superb acting throughout and a magisterial style of story telling. Another superb example of Oriental "less is more". Read morePublished 9 months ago by Maurizio
A true cinematic classic. Not much needs be said about Kobayashis masterful destruction of the feudal system and its rigorous dismissal of humanity, other than its right on, like... Read morePublished 9 months ago by grafdog
My absolute most favourite Jidaigeki Samurai Movie. It embodies everything great in film to me. If you're a fan of movies, this is one of the classic gems of the movie... Read morePublished 10 months ago by A. Hackbarth
So much has probably been said about this movie that I don't know what I can add to it. First, this might be the best movie from Masaki Kobayashi who directed many a great film. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Future Past
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