Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list
Harakiri aka 切腹 or Seppuku
dir. Masaki Kobayashi scr. Shinobu Hashimoto cin. Yoshio Miyajima with Tatsuya Nakadai, Shima Iwashita, Akira Ishihama, Yoshio Inaba
In 100 words: From the stately camera movements, to the glorious use of space, to its suitably eerie soundtrack, to its perfect editing, and ultimately its rigorous performers, Harakiri stands well above its genre’s other mainstays, in terms of its sheer technical proficiency and its damning sociopolitical context. Kobayashi’s highly involving story, from its austere beginnings, to its epic finish, condemns Japanese obsession with bushido and the code of honor. It then throws bushido’s hypocrisy to its face and upends the notional belief that the life of a samurai is honorable. Hard to deny it its rightful place as among the finest films ever.
Other Movies for Context: I love love love this movie. Kobayashi’s movie is the best samurai film I’ve ever seen, and that includes the Kurosawa samurai movies, like Seven Samurai (1954) which suffers from its laborious attempt to put together a team (highly overrated I think), Throne of Blood (1957), which is maybe Kurosawa’s best samurai movie since it’s an adaptation of Macbeth, and Kagemusha (1980), which is more pretty than actually interesting. Takashi Miike remade this movie in 2011 in 3-D.