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Archive for February 27th, 2012

Harakiri (1962)

It is the early 1600’s in Japan during the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate. Starving and jobless samurai warriors roam the country after the end of the civil war. Many are turning up on rich people’s estates asking to commit harakiri (ritual suicide) as they find it too humiliating to go around begging for work like peasants. The only honourable thing to do is commit harakiri. One such samurai Hanshiro Tsugumo turns up on the doorstep of Lord Kageyu Saito asking for assistance in killing himself but the Lord is suspicious of his intention thinking he’s trying to ask for a job or money. He tells the story of what happened to the last samurai who turned up asking for the same request – a young man called Motome Chijiiwa who was made to perform harakiri by using a blunt bamboo sword. The Lord thinks that what happened to Chijiiwa will persuade other samurai warriors not to come calling at his place. Tsugomo tells his own story whilst waiting for for his own death and how he was associated with Motome Chijiiwa.

Harakiri is a movie that critics have harped on about saying how fantastic it is but I can’t claim to be one of them. It’s a good movie but not brilliant. Beautiful to look at but it just drags on and on. The pace was just too slow and deliberate for me and I couldn’t wait for it to finish. It isn’t like your typical samurai movie. There are some sword fighting scenes but these are kept to a minimum in the 2nd half of the movie. There’s a horrific and graphic scene which features Chijiiwa performing harakiri – very painful to watch. I couldn’t fault the actors at all, they’re very good in their roles. Perhaps I was expecting something with a little bit more action which could be the reason why this movie didn’t get me excited at all. I found the first 60 mins tolerable enough but then I found my mind wandering. I just didn’t find Harakiri memorable and I certainly wouldn’t want to watch it again.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5.

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