Film Review: Harakiri (1962) by Masaki Kobayashi

After the completion of his “The Human Condition”-trilogy in 1961 with “A Soldier’s Prayer”, Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi expressed interest in doing a samurai film, a jidaigeki. In retrospect, a director whose theme has always been the relationship of the individual and the system, the time and age could not have been better for a closer focus on that subject within a more historical context. Considering the following years would have re-discover the genre as a means to explore repressive regimes, codes and how these influence society and the character of a person, “Harakiri” fits perfectly in this time of Japanese cinema. Even though Kobayashi’s approach respects the tradition of the genre, there is an undeniable link to the times, the increasing sense of frustration with an inhumane system, which, in the end, makes his film one of the classics within Japanese film.

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