切腹/Harakiri

[Screenshot]This is certainly a self-consciously arty film. Like many Japanese dramatic films, it brings to bear a fair number of stage dramatic conventions which I’m not deeply familiar with, so certain nuances of expression (and of course of language) might have been lost on me, but nonetheless it was impressively presented; it was very long but never felt like it was dragging, laying its story out in a way that left me anticipating its (rather gruesome) revelations and conclusion. It’s very much a period drama, but unlike the many (mostly Kurosawa) films of the feudal period, this one is set in the Edo period, with a strong consciousness of social change, evidenced both in the crumbling of the great houses which forms the primary dramatic backdrop for the story, and the technological change presaged by the appearance of firearms.

It’s a beautiful film, with stark cinematography and dramatic contrasts of shade in the set design; the most obvious criticism that can be leveled at it is that, like so many of its artistic peers, it runs quite long. The story is ultimately pretty slight, spun out in detail which although gorgeous occasionally gets a little narratively thin, and although it’s never dull it does tend towards a certain languidity, lingering on a particularly striking setting or bit of acting. But if you don’t mind a certain leisureliness of pcing, there is enough here that you won’t feel like your time’s been wasted.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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