I like this film for the reasons given by other viewers--and because it is one of the most beautifully photographed films I've ever seen.
This is a 1956 Japanese WW2-war drama directed by Kon Ichikawa (市川 崑), based on a children's novel of the same name (ビルマの竪琴) written by Michio Takeyama (竹山 道雄).
The film shows Japanese soldiers who fought in the Burma Campaign during World War II.
A member of the group goes missing after the war.
The soldiers hope to uncover whether their friend survived, and if he is the same person as a Buddhist monk they see playing a harp.
The protagonist is loosely modeled by Kazuo Nakamura, who became a Buddhist monk in Japan after the war (群馬県利根郡昭和村の雲昌寺前住職 中村一雄).
It is one of the best Japanese anti-war movies.
At the end of WWII a regiment of Japanese troops stationed in Burma surrender to British forces and prepare to be transported to a distant P.O.W. camp. Before leaving however, one officer is given the task of convincing a renegade battalion of fellow soldiers firmly planted in a mountain stronghold to lay down their weapons and accept defeat. Sadly he fails to sway their stubborn commander in time to avert an ally counterstrike and tragedy ensues. Suddenly alone and destitute, the young man disguises himself as a monk and begins the 200 mile journey to join his comrades. Along the way his encounters with war’s gruesome aftermath will contrast sharply with the simple humanity of the peasants he meets and his life will be changed forever. Rife with Buddhist allegory and sublime choral pieces, this anti-war parable is one of the most striking examples of Japanese cinema ever made. Kon Ichikawa directs with the eye of a poet and his talented cast perform beautifully. Sad, reflective, and quietly subversive....a minor masterpiece.
I enjoyed this movie especially knowing it was made in Japan only a few years after the war. Wasit a way to give the Japanese something to respect when so much had been destroyed.
This is a very good movie, carefully directed and well-written. It makes a strong statement about the futility of war.
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