Peaceful Stoner’s review published on Letterboxd:
Which is the most befitting way for a person to die? Is it to die of honour or to die of love. Harakiri answers this and many other moral questions in a gut wrenching manner.
Honour like hope can be a double edged sword. It can take a person to the heights of greatness. It can also make a person obsessed and commit inhumane acts if not kept under check. It can make a person desensitized and blind him for the cause of protecting his ideal. This happens when honour's significance is weighed more in one's mind than the most powerful human emotion of love. Only love can make us see. Only love can fulfill the destiny of our existence. Only love and compassion can make us be worthy human beings. Only love can make us die peacefully, satisfactorily and honourably. Any other way of death might seem brave and haughty. But what is the use of dying just to feed your own satisfaction of valour and honour? A person who dies for the cause of his love, be it love for the his family, the people of his nation or the world as a whole, will be remembered a million ages more than a person who dies for honour.
Such is the heaviness of the question put forth to us and such is its way of telling the story, Harakiri grabs its audience by the throat and never lets go until it is finished.
The film is shot crisply in black and white and my God the cinematography looked so good and way ahead of its time. The dialogues are deeply philosophical, dark and beautifully written. They are so powerful that they have the potential to make the viewer unconsciously reminisce about the ideas they imparted. The aperiodic usage of the strings perfectly exempts the tension on the screen and implants it in the viewer's mind. The musical score was as unnerving and stressful as the entire film was. We are shown a Samurai who swears, by the end of his story he will commit Harakiri and die with honour. But what is his story? How has it affected him? How has it moved him to come to such a decision? How will it affect the others listening to it? All these make for an extremely tense, invigorating and absorbing watch. These combined with powerhouse performances from every actor on screen make this a masterpiece. Not only is it a masterpiece of film making, but also a masterpiece in the morals it tries to convey. It is a true and an essential masterpiece.
PS, I can talk so much about how only love and nothing else should guide a man's path of life. It was 1630 when Hanshiro Tsugumo told his story and his views. It is 2013 now and the world has gone from bad to worse. Love and compassion still exist within human beings. I am not saying they are extinct in any way. But people who follow the path of love are terribly outnumbered and so heavily impacted by those who are money minded, self centered and their acts. Love for mankind has been superseded by greed for power, materialistic ambitions and hatred fueled by religion, in the majority of human kind. In such a world I can only hope my words are not treated as those of a grumbling mad man. I can only hope.