Thursday, October 11, 2012

Harakiri (Seppuku) (1962)

Director: Masaki Kobayashi. Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita. 133 min. Drama/Action. Japan.

Again, we have a masterpiece, 50 years old, in stark black-and-white, with not even a boring moment. A young masterless Samurai (a ronin), walks into a great clan house, requesting to use their forecourt to perform a "harakiri" - a ritual suicidal disembowelment. The clan believes this to be an extortion ploy, and forces the Samurai to perform the ritual, shown in full bloody detail. Violence breeds violence, and the movie ends in climactic sword fights of captivating cinematic perfection. Harakiri is an anti-Samurai film as much as Unforgiven was an anti-Western; showing how Samurai honor, is just a facade.

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