24 October 2011
The latest work from the director of 13 Assassins was the first 3D film to be screened in competition at Cannes. Based on a short story that was first adapted into Masaki Kobayashsi’s 1962 classic HARAKIRI, Miike’s interpretation is gentler than one might imagine, with a love story at its core and a challenging probe into the ancient codes of honour and morality behind hara-kiri (aka Seppuku, a ritual in which a Samurai plunges a blade into his stomach and disembowels himself in a courtyard full of noble spectators). This is the story of Hanshiro, an out of work samurai who shows up at Lord Li’s house requesting to perform Seppuku. The head of the house, Kageyu, warns him that the last man who tried a suicide bluff for money, Motome, ended up being forced to go through with the act – with a bamboo stick. As they talk, Hanshiro’s bond to Motome becomes clear, and his quest for vengeance. Grisly as it sounds, HARA-KIRI is a change in tone for Miike, notorious for his portrayals of extreme violence. Filmed with sumptuous colours, and subtly using 3D, this is a stunning samurai film exploring the human behind the warrior.