Harakiri | 切腹 | Seppuku [1962]

9/10 | 22.Mar.12
Harakiri | 切腹 | Seppuku

Masaki Kobayashi: 1962

HARAKIRI (“Seppuku”, 1962). Undeniably powerful and beautifully executed, and yet…I dunno. When a film is this great its defects (much too strong a word), its infelicities stand out and gnaw at me. One is a camera move that for some reason I’ve really grown to hate: the rapid zoom-in (I guess here it’s actually a tight dolly-in) on an actor’s face, an object, a movement to signify IMPORTANT! I associate rapid zooms with trashy melodramas or parodies of melodramas, particularly on television, and low comedy silliness. They all but cry out for a comic strip’s GASP! or THUNK! or KERPLOWEEE! And while the composition of shots is stunning, really gorgeous, there are some camera moves/edits that are done over and over to the point that I found it unnecessarily distracting. And the camera work is not flawless: there are noticeable dips and wobbles in some of the dolly shots. Yeah, I’m picking nits, and probably unimportant nits at that, given everything else that’s great about the film, and I’ll probably change my mind, but for now: 9/10. Unless you can convince me otherwise. [3/22/12]

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