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Weekend Rental: The Burmese Harp

Japanese Director, Kon Ichikawa, who many critics considered to be equally as important and influential as Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu, died last Wednesday in Tokyo at the age of 92.  An extraordinarily prolific director, Ichikawa has made over 80 films in varying genres–ranging from thrillers to dark comedies; cartoons to war-films, including many literary adaptations and numerous collaborations with his wife, Natto Wada, as screenwriter.

For this edition of Weekend Rental, I would like to recommend IchiKawa’s 1956 Academy Award nominated anti-war film, The Burmese Harp, which tells the story of a group of Japanese soldiers positioned in Burma at the end of WWII, who are asked by the British to convince a resistant regiment to surrender.  The mission goes awry and soldier, Shoji Yasui, presumed dead, must make his way back to his fellow soldiers by donning the robe of a Buddhist Monk. Yasui, making his way across a war-scarred land littered with casualties, begins to assume the role of a real monk and the picture becomes a humanist meditation on the aftermath of war. Available from Criterion in a restored high-def transfer.

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