Harakiri ★★★★★

"What befalls others today, may be your own fate tomorrow."

Wow...just wow.....wow. It's hard to review a movie that's perfect on so many levels. But I try.

Harakiri is the ultimate clash between a principled individual, the ronin Tsugumo Hanshiro, and the dictates of a repressive regime. The way the story unfolds in reverse chronology is storytelling on a different level. The haunting music and Kobayashi's slow tracking shots and specific angles, especially of Hanshiro kneeling upright in the courtjard of the palace of the Iyi clan whilst surrounded by armed retainers, help create an atmosphere of ultimate suspense - possibly even to the envy of Hitchcock. The suspense builds and builds, until finally, after several heartbreaking flashbacks, we find out the true purpose of Hanshiro visiting the hypocritical House of Iyi. What follows is a finale that rivals the explosion of violence in Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969).

It's a true shame Harakiri doesn't enjoy the same popularity in western countries as the great Kurosawa masterpieces. In fact, before joining Letterboxd I never even heard of it. I'm thankful I finally got to see it, and I recommend everyone who loves movies, to do the same.

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