Previously at the ICA - Films

Harakiri, Dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 1962

Harakiri

16 Sep 201122 Sep 2011

Considered to be the key samurai film, alongside Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, Harakiri is a complex, kinetic masterpiece. Winner of the 1963 Cannes Film Festival's Special Jury Prize, Masaki Kobayashi's Harakiri is a scathing indictment of a society obsessed by material greed, riven with hypocrisy and devoid of human compassion. Presented here in a restored hi-definition version, the film hasn’t looked this good since its original release almost fifty years ago.

Unemployed samurai Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the gates of Lord Iyi’s castle, begging to be allowed the dignity of committing ritual suicide under the Lord’s aegis rather than face the ignominy of poverty as a masterless samurai. Believing the desperate ronin is merely trying to blackmail the Lord into employing him, and isn’t serious, Lord Iyi humiliates Tsugumo —but seriously underestimates both his bushido spirit. Constructed in a series of artful flashbacks, recounting the samurai’s fall from grace, Harakiri unfolds with chilling precision culminating in some of the greatest swordplay ever filmed.

Dir. Masaki Kobayashi, Japan, 1962, Japanese with English subtitles, 15 recommended cert, 135min

Cast: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama and Shima Iwashita

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