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The Burmese Harp (Criterion Collection) (1956)

Cast: Shoji Yasui, Rentaro Mikuni, Tatsuya Mihashi, more...
Director: Kon Ichikawa
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Studio: Criterion
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Japan, War, WWII, Criterion Collection
Running Time: 116 min.
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English
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Set against the final days of World War II, The Burmese Harp portrays the experiences of a group of exhausted, war-scarred Japanese soldiers as they prepare to return to Japan. The film focuses on Shoji Yasui, a soldier known to his comrades for his harp playing, who fails to convince a resistant company to surrender and is presumed dead when a battle destroys their hillside encampment. To rejoin his fellow soldiers, Shoji steals the robes of a Buddhist monk and begins to make his way across the countryside. But along the way, he becomes fixated on the hundreds of abandoned, unburied war casualties and begins to assume the duties of his costume and tend to the bodies. Meanwhile, Shoji's friends mount a search for him, eventually noticing the monk to whom he bears an uncanny resemblance. Director Kon Ichikawa's film was adapted by frequent collaborator (and wife) Nato Wada) from a book by Michio Takeyama designed to introduce children to the fundamental principles of Buddhism.
~ Keith Phipps, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Burying the Dead by talltale March 27, 2007 - 4:54 PM PDT
8 out of 8 members found this review helpful
I cried like a baby, unexpectedly, too, the first time I saw THE BURMESE HARP (at one of the early NY Film Festivals, when it was alredy perhaps a decade old). I saw it years later and was still greatly moved. Now that's it on DVD--and from Criterion, yet--I recommend you give it a try, if you're among the uninitiated. If you've already seen it, you've undoubtedly queued up. This is a war movie (maybe a post-war movie?) for those of us not terribly fond of war.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 8.13)
45 Votes
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Moveline's 100 Best Foreign Films
This list was published in Moveline's July 1996 issue.

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