Movie Review – Harakiri

Posted: July 13, 2014 in Movie Reviews
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Harakiri totally spoilt my day. A Cache or a Stalker spoiling my day is understandable. But a Japanese samurai period drama spoiling my day was something that I totally didn’t expect. Harakiri had a Rashomon feel to it. Before watching Harakiri, Rashomon was my favorite movie. I now really don’t know whether it had beat Rashomon to top the chart but its very well in the fray of Rashomon and Grave of the fireflies. In fact the opening of the movie was similar to Rashomon too with an empty castle with a board. Only that it wasn’t raining. The first shot was a curious one though with nothing but the top of castle and the sky visible.


It took me a good 20 minutes to settle down for the movie because I wasn’t in a mood to watch a Japanese film that time. I planned to watch Separation but thanks to my unmatching subtitles I chose Harakiri, with a friends help of course. Not a bad choice at all but still Separation is eluding me forever.

So for the first 20 minutes the things that I found awkward majorly was the editing. Gaps were given at the most unexpected and scenes from the present to flashback were jumping without a visible cut, even it had had cuts it was shown as if it was continuous shot. I found the method of storytelling unique and I’ve to laud Masaki Kobayashi for it. Taking about the director, how many movies have we really watched which is not of Kurosawa. Yes Ozu is there but he’s different. Harakiri is a type of movie which Kurosawa makes. So when I first watched Tsugomo Hanshiro enter I thought him to be Toshiru Mifune as usual and the director to be Kurasawa. I was in fact amazed by how subtle Mifune had acted because I’ve always seen him loud roles. And it all matched so well. Only after reading the credits I got to know about Kobayashi and Tatsuya Nakadi. Now I need to watch more of Kobayashi. Seems another gem of a director.

Then the next weird thing was there were a lot of shots which followed the person when he was moving, not sure what’s the term they use but it disappeared all of a sudden. Guess the movie was shot in chronological order. And these 20 minutes was the time my mind was wavering about, thinking mostly of Japanese architecture, how I want to go to a place I don’t know the language at all and yet be happy. I want to go especially to Japanese houses like these made of wood and were people sit in a type of kneeled down position.

Only after those 20 minutes of confusion I settled for the movie. It was the juncture where a Japanese samurai is made to kill himself with wooden dagger. Only at that point I sat in an upright position. And the rest was history…

That was the time where I understood the meaning of the film even though Hanshiro acts out what Harakiri means, a numerous time to Saito Kageyu. The scene was quite gory. The one which went to this extreme was the rape scene in Ugetsu which was lovely and the seduction scene in Woman in the Dunes. Well now that’s a whole different story. I feel I’m just boasting my knowledge here. So the point is it was gory enough to stand out, to make me excited.

Then Hanshiro starts narrating the scene which leads up to the hara-kiri scene. He names three people to be a second for him, meaning the one who beheads the person who performs hara-kiri to send him to heaven or some word Hanshiro mentions. All three are surprisingly not there.

Hanshiro then narrates the flashback. The first hara-kiri even though gory didn’t make me think was wrong because he wanted hara-kiri so why would he come with a wooden blade. But once Hanshiro narrates the story my opinion changed. I salute the director for molding me in the way he wanted me to react. It thus becomes one hell of a revenge story.

The climax story again reminded me of one of the Chinese movie house of flying daggers where they keep on fighting from one season to other and also the famous spaghetti westerns gun fight scenes which reportedly had drawn inspiration from samurai movies. I prefer the spaghetti westerns though. The main reason being music and close ups. Also the sound of guns. Sergio Leone absolutely would have nailed it.

Whats even more special is it doesn’t become a Rajnikanth act all of a sudden by Hanshiro killing everyone or a desi old movie syndrome where a villain becomes good during a climax. But becomes an excellent satire with Hanshiro being killed and few other compelled to perfom hara-kiri but written everything wrong in the books. Something which is completely opposite. So whatever history we are reading now could be completely wrong. Whom is to be believed? Of all the things that happened in the movie this was what made me depressed the maximum.

Here is another interesting story. Restrooms have always been men’s most freest of places giving gyan, singing songs etc. You see a real man when he’s peeing. Restroom is one place where a man lets go of everything, some sing, some pass rude comments about girls, some bitch about their manager etc. What happens in the wall stays inside the wall. During one of my numerous visits to restroom there were two people talking about history. One was saying that we know a certain thing only if it’s been written but the history before Cholas and Pandyas which has not been written we certainly don’t know. So anything could have happened before that. What I’m coming to say is… this reminded me of hara-kiri climax scene meaning history could have been tampered and also the history in general. A lot would have happened which we still don’t know or we never will get to know.


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