The Burmese Harp [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1956]

Released at the same time as Criterion's excellent DVD edition of Kon Ichikawa's Fires On The Plain, this presentation of Ichikawa's gentler but equally powerful meditation on the toll of war has been given a similarly strong treatment. The Burmese Harp has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the images look excellent, replicating the elegant cinematography of Minoru Yokoyama without missing a single missing. The audio, in Japanese, has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and makes the most of the source materials, with Akira Ifukube's score sounding especially impressive. Optional subtitles in English are included, with are clear and easy on the eyes. Among the bonus features included for this release are new interviews with director Ichikawa and leading man Rentaro Mikuni, the film's original Japanese trailer, and a thoughtful essay on the picture from film historian Tony Rayns. Criterion's recent emphasis on classic Asian cinema is more than welcome, and this is a beautiful presentation of a towering work in the history of Japanese film that's well worth your time and attention.
$22.99
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Overview

Special Features

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

Synopsis

The Burmese Harp
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, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Image coming soon
    Shoji Yasui - Private Yasuhiko
  • Rentaro Mikuni
    Rentaro Mikuni - Capt. Inouye
  • Tatsuya Mihashi
    Tatsuya Mihashi - Defense Commander
  • Tanie Kitabayashi
    Tanie Kitabayashi - Old Woman
  • Yunosuke Ito
    Yunosuke Ito - Village head
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