Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai


(out of 5)

Original title:  Ichimei

Remake of the Masaki Kobayashi classic that puts the emphasis more on slow, dramatic dread than the crisp visual energy of the original.  An aging samurai shows up at the doorstep of a great lord and makes a request to perform ritual suicide on the lord’s estate and rid himself of his desperate woes.  His host responds by telling him the tale of the last person who showed up to do just that, a man who was performing what has become known as a “suicide bluff”, or a way for financially desperate samurai to gain themselves employment.  Hearing the tale, our mysterious hero responds with a story of his own which defies all expectations and goes deep into heartbreak territory.  Dark, moody photography and superb acting don’t rewrite Kobayashi’s magnificence in any way, but it is a strong and worthy effort, with romantic overtones placing the familiar narrative into such different trappings.

Recorded Picture Company, Sedic International, Amuse Soft Entertainment, Asahi Shimbun, Dentsu, Kôdansha, Oriental Light and Magic, Shochiku Company, Yahoo Japan, Yamanashi Broadcasting System, Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun

Japan/United Kingdom, 2011

Directed by

Screenplay by , based on the novel Ibun ronin-ki by

Cinematography by

Produced by , ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Cannes Film Festival 2011

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