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The Burmese Harp (1956)

Biruma no tategoto (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Music, War | 28 April 1967 (USA)
In the War's closing days, when a conscience-driven Japanese soldier fails to get his countrymen to surrender to overwhelming force, he adopts the lifestyle of a Buddhist monk.

Director:

Kon Ichikawa

Writers:

Michio Takeyama (novel), Natto Wada
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rentarô Mikuni Rentarô Mikuni ... Captain Inouye
Shôji Yasui ... Mizushima
Jun Hamamura Jun Hamamura ... Ito
Taketoshi Naitô Taketoshi Naitô ... Kobayashi (as Takeo Naito)
Shunji Kasuga Shunji Kasuga ... Maki
Kô Nishimura Kô Nishimura ... Baba (as Akira Nishimura)
Keishichi Nakahara Keishichi Nakahara ... Takagi
Toshiaki Itô Toshiaki Itô ... Hashimoto
Hiroshi Hijikata Hiroshi Hijikata ... Okada
Tomio Aoki Tomio Aoki ... Oyama
Norikatsu Hanamura Norikatsu Hanamura ... Nakamura
Sanpei Mine Sanpei Mine ... Abe
Takashi Koshiba Takashi Koshiba ... Shimizu
Tomoko Tonai Tomoko Tonai
Tokuhei Miyahara Tokuhei Miyahara ... Nagai
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Storyline

Mizushima is a soldier in the Japanese army in Burma in World War II. He's a good soldier and frequently plays his harp to entertain his fellow soldiers. When the war comes to an end, he is asked by the British to go into the mountains to try and convince a Japanese troop to surrender. Given only 30 minutes to convince them, Mizushima is unsuccessful - they would rather die with honor - and the British attack. Deeply affected by what has happened, he becomes a Buddhist monk, traveling the countryside burying the remains of Japanese soldiers. He is unable however to rejoin his brothers-in-arms. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Music | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Burmese | Japanese | English

Release Date:

28 April 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Burmese Harp See more »

Filming Locations:

Burma See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$13,748
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Nikkatsu See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (part one) | (part two)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

The 'British' officer in charge of the funerary cremation repository speaks with a decidedly Australian, not British, accent. See more »

Quotes

Mizushima: [to his parrot] Let's return to Japan together.
See more »

Connections

Remade as The Burmese Harp (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

Aogeba Toutoshi
(Traditional Japanese Farewell Song)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A universal testament to the horror of war
1 December 2003 | by howard.schumannSee all my reviews

Based on a novel by Michio Takeyama, The Burmese Harp was the first film that brought director Kon Ichikawa to international attention. It is the story of Mizushima (Shoji Yasui) a Japanese soldier in Burma at the close of World War Two who is sent on a mission by his Captain to inform another unit of the Japanese surrender and to convince them to stop fighting. When the unit refuses to give up and are destroyed by the British Army, only Mizushima remains alive and must come to terms with his nation's defeat. Pretending to be a Buddhist monk, he undergoes a religious conversion when he comes face to face with the staggering amount of death and destruction he sees as he travels across the region in search of his unit. Determined to honor and bury the dead, Mizushima is conflicted about remaining in Burma to live a life of service or returning to Japan to help rebuild his own country.

The film takes its name from a Burmese harp acquired by Mizushima. He has become an expert harpist and plays while the soldiers sing beautiful chorales with a sound so lush it feels as if it is coming from the Mormon Tabernacle. While the depiction of the soldiers may be idealized, The Burmese Harp transcends its limitations to become a universal testament not only to the madness that prevailed in Burma, but to the unspeakable horror of all war. Ichikawa, in spite of the fact that film became a classic, loved the story so much that he filmed it again in 1985.


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