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Harakiri and The Moment Of Truth Blu-ray Reviews

 

“Harakiri” and “The Moment Of Truth” are two lesser known gems from Criterion.

Harakiri

“Harakiri” starts out with an unemployed samurai (Hanshiro Tsugumo) comes to the House Of Iyi wanting to commit hara-kiri/seppuku honorably, but ends with the viewer having a bigger picture as to why. What happened in Tsugumo’s past that led him to this point in life? How does Motome Chijiwa’s brutal harakari ceremony at the House Of Iyi tie into the story? Is the All is revealed in the end.

One would think a 133 minute film about a man commiting harakiri might be a tad bit excessive, and to a certain extent, that may be true. The film does drag in places (especially in the final act) and there is far too much chatter about honor here. However, if you can look past those flaws and have the patience to see where the film will take you, you might be surprised by the end result.

If I had to describe how “Harakiri” plays, I would say that it is like a good novel. It may start a little slow, but you will find that the more the story unfolds, the more rewarding it becomes. Between the exhaustive look at the harakiri process, the enlightening and tragic flashbacks, and the explosive sword battles in the final 20 minutes, it’s hard not to get engrossed by the film.

The best part of this classic film is that it never tries to imitate other samurai films or be like an Akira Kurosawa film. Instead, it has a unique, fresh, and adult take on the life of a samurai who has lost everything.

Video/Audio:

“Harakiri” is presented in 2.35:1 1080p and, like “The Moment Of Truth” disc, the print is generally worthy of praise. This is a prime example of how B&W films SHOULD look on Blu-ray. Everything from the details on close-ups to the gorgeous bamboo forest looks crystal clear here. Granted, there were a few grain heavy and or wavy images here and there, but those are minor issues.

The Uncompressed Mono track sounds surprisingly sharp and cleaned up considering the film’s age. Very impressive work by Criterion.

Extras:

*Original theatrical trailer of “Harakiri.”

* A booklet containing an essay by Joan Mellen and an interview with Masaki Kobayashi. Loads of deep analysis and conversations to be found here.

* An introduction by Japanese film historian Donald Richie in which he talks about Kobayashi’s work, his experience in seeing “Harakiri,” themes, etc.

* A laidback interview with Masaki Kobayashi in which he talks about visual style, the cast and crew, the bamboo sword scene, and much more.

* “A Golden Age”- An interview with actor Tatsuya Nakadai. He chats about his career, his experiences in the film industry, 50’s and 60’s Japanaese cinema, and, of course, “Harakiri.”

* “Masterless Samurai”- Another interview, this time with screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto in which he chats about his script, story ideas, the process of harakiri, research he did, and so forth.

The Moment Of Truth:

As someone who isn’t a fan of bullfighting, I was wondering how “The Moment Of Truth” would play out for me. After all, the film revolves around a Miguel Romero’s (played by real life bullfighter Miguel Mateo) rise to fame as a torero/bullfighter. Much like a film like “Moneyball” isn’t just about baseball, however, “Truth” is certainly not just about bullfighting. It’s a film about culture, rituals, and attemping to make a comfortable living by risking life and limb.

“The Moment Of Truth” is a surprisingly dark, unflinching character study that almost has a documentary feel to it. The audience gets an almost fly on the wall look at Miguel Romero’s life in an out of the arena. Whether he is brutally killing a bull in the arena or living in a constant state of fear outside of it, the film really digs deep into the psyche of Romero which is what makes the film so compelling. Yes, it can certainly be tough to watch considering the subject matter, but despite how one may feel about the sport/event, it’s a well-made film that is worth checking out for film buffs.

Video/Audio:

For the most part, “The Moment Of Truth” looks very picturesque in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p.  The cinematography is stunning and the transfer has certainly been cleaned up here. With that said, I noticed a few issues such as some instances in which the frame jumps and some strange ghosting at the top of the frame during one arena sequence.

The Uncompressed Mono track is definitely not the greatest track, but it certainly does the job in and out of the arena.

Extras:
* A booklet featuring an in-depth 10 page essay about the film by Peter Matthews.
* An interesting interview with director Francesco Rosi in which he chats about how there was no script, his work, how the concept for the film came about, Fellini, cameras, etc.

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February 13, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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