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Staff Picks: Harakiri (1962)

When a ronin requesting seppuku at a feudal lord's palace is told of the brutal suicide of another ronin who previously visited, he reveals how their pasts are intertwined - and in doing so challenges the clan's integrity. (NR, 133 min.)


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

7:00 PM

Staff Picks Series
Every month a member of the Moxie staff picks a film that impacted their lives and we put it up on the big screen. The Staff Picks series is Free for Members.

April's pick was made by Owen Corp.
"Harakiri stands as a monumental film within the Japanese New Wave movement, arguably one of the most important film movements of all time. Harakiri stands out for its profound anti-samurai, samurai movie nature; in a way, it uses the medium to combat traditional thinking in an effort to influence new and progressive speech, which, in our current political-era, is immensely prevalent."
Click here to read the full Q & A.

Following the collapse of his clan, an unemployed samurai (Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi, begging to be allowed to commit ritual suicide on the property. Iyi’s clansmen, believing the desperate ronin is merely angling for a new position, try to force his hand and get him to eviscerate himself—but they have underestimated his beliefs and his personal brand of honor. Winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize, Harakiri, directed by Masaki Kobayashi is a fierce evocation of individual agency in the face of a corrupt and hypocritical system. [Criterion]

Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita
Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Language: Japanese
Genre(s): Action, Drama, Mystery

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"Kobayashi's great, laceratingly exciting 1962 Japanese samurai revenge saga, once voted by Japanese critics their country's all-time best film. [03 Mar 2006]"

— Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

"The film has a steady, hypnotic momentum; the director, Masaki Kobayashi, wrings as much drama out of facial twitches as he does out of sword fights. He’s helped immensely by Nakadai’s molten performance and Toru Takemitsu’s spare, disquieting music."

— Michael Sragow, The New Yorker