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Harakiri(切腹)

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Japan

1962

2h15

Masaki Kobayashi

Director

Tatsuya Nakadai, Rentarou Mikuni, Shima Iwashita, Akira Ishihama

Stars

Action, Drama, History

Genre

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Aging samurai Hanshiro Tsugumo arrives at the home of Kageyu Saito and asks to commit a ritual suicide on the property, which Saito thinks is a ploy to gain pity and a job. Saito tells Tsugumo of another samurai, Motome Chijiiwa, who threatened suicide as a stratagem, only to be forced to follow through on the task. When Tsugumo reveals that Chijiiwa was his son-in-law, the disclosure sets off a fierce conflict.

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

Pico Banerjee Profile picture for Pico Banerjee

Among the most poignant political statements in cinema, Harakiri concatenates the personal with the political, displaying the tension between loving both one's duty and one's family. With stunning cinematography, intricately staged choreography (which involved the use of real swords!), and Tatsuya Nakadai's impeccable acting, Harakiri is a feast for the eyes and catharsis for the soul. It doesn't get better than this.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

75

Slant Magazine by

Structured with intricacy and precision, the storyline alternates between present and past, using its extended flashback sequences to delay and then detonate narrative revelations like so many time bombs.
80

The New Yorker by Michael Sragow

The film has a steady, hypnotic momentum; the director, Masaki Kobayashi, wrings as much drama out of facial twitches as he does out of sword fights. He’s helped immensely by Nakadai’s molten performance and Toru Takemitsu’s spare, disquieting music.
100

Chicago Tribune by Michael Wilmington

Kobayashi's great, laceratingly exciting 1962 Japanese samurai revenge saga, once voted by Japanese critics their country's all-time best film. [03 Mar 2006, p.C5]

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