Thursday, March 21, 2013

303. Biruma No Tategoto

Biruma No Tategoto
Burmese Harp
Directed by Kon Ichikawa

As you probably know by now, I am a huge fan of Japanese cinema.  I really love how it can be so emotional without being too sentimental.  Unfortunately, this film totally crossed the line to sappiness.

So first of all, if you know anything about what happened in Burma, you know that what they show in this film is complete bullshit.  No, they did not lose the war because they spent too much time singing.  Just had to clear that up.

This is the story of a Japanese battalion that is defeated by the British.  After they are captured, they send their harpist to convince the other Japanese battalion to surrender.  That fails so the harpist decides to spend his time burying Japanese soldiers.  Cue the violins.  Although, I suppose in this case, it would be more accurate to say cue the harps.

I suppose the more sensitive people among us would be weeping at this film.  I, however, thought it was ridiculous.  Making a war musical is a bold move and it really did not pay off here.

Way too sentimental and I am deeply disappointed.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

One of the first Japanese films to deal with pacifist themes in WWII.


  1. History is written by the victorious, so I doubt the Japanese version of that campaign gets much attention. I did not get the message that they lost the war because they sang too much. On the contrary, the singing in this particular unit helped them cope with the horrors of war. I think it is commendable that they felt such grief at the carnage and useless waste of human lives.
    I liked this movie, but I realize it is not to everybody's taste.

    1. I really struggling to remember this one. Maybe I'll give it another shot.

  2. Takes a bit of an effort, but I thought it was well worth it.

    My reading of the narrative was that they were retreating to the Thai border when a British troop told them that the war was over so they had no choice but to accept it. No defeat involved for the troop?

    Given how raw the subject must have been in Japan at the time, this film must have been particularly resonant. I imagine many families were still haunted by not knowing the final fate of their loved ones. With this in mind, I found it quite affecting.