The Burmese Harp
Kon Ichikawa

The Burmese Harp

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THE BURMESE HARP

A feature film by Kon Ichikawa
116 minutes, b/w, 1956. DVD NTSC.

Japanese with English subtitles. Japan

“Can’t you see that whatever you do is futile? The armies of Britain and Japan can come and fight all they wish. Burma is still Burma. Burma is the Buddha’s country.” – Monk who nurses Mizushima back to health in Biruma no tategoto (The Burmese Harp, 1956)


An Imperial Japanese Army regiment surrenders to British forces in Burma at the close of World War II and finds harmony through song. A private, thought to be dead, disguises himself as a Buddhist monk and stumbles upon spiritual enlightenment. Magnificently shot in hushed black and white, Kon Ichikawa’s The Burmese Harp is an eloquent meditation on beauty coexisting with death and remains one of Japanese cinema’s most overwhelming antiwar statements, both tender and brutal in its grappling with Japan’s wartime legacy.

REVIEWS

Kon Ichikawa’s deeply humane, spiritually resonant masterpiece – Decent Films

The specifics of Mizushima's spiritual awakening...are handled with admirable and sometimes sobering restraint... – Cine Outsider

It’s impossible to recommend [The Burmese Harp] highly enough. Rating: * * * * * –  The Telegraph

The Burmese Harp is a masterful and selfless anti-war film, which I highly recommend. – Letterboxd

AWARDS

Winner, Best Film Score, Mainichi Film Awards, 1956
San Giorgio Prize, OCIC Award Honourable Mention,  Venice Film Festival, 1956 

Nominee, Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards, 1957

BONUS FEATURES

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New video interviews with director Kon Ichikawa and actor Rentaro Mikuni
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A new essay by renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns

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