by Chris MaGee
Okay, here's a story that really pisses me off. One of the very best jidai-geki films in Japanese cinema history has to be Masaki Kobayashi's 1962 film "Harakiri". hell, it may be one of the best films produced in Japan period. For the uninitiated "Harakiri" stars screen legend Tatsuya Nakadai as Hanshiro Tsugumo, an impoverished samurai who appears at the doors of the the estate of the weathly lord Saito (Rentaro Mikuni) and decalres that he wants to commit ritual seppuku in Saito's courtyard. Before he is about to disembowel himself he tells the story of another samurai who was forced to commit seppuku in Saito's courtyard with nothing but a bamboo sword. This tale leads to a damning portrayal of the samurai code of honour, Bushido, the code that in many ways forms the basis of present day Japanese codes of societal and filial responsbility. "Harakiri" is a totally unique film - one that has pleased movie-goers for the past four plus decades since its release while also being one of the most damning portrayals of Japanese society committed to celluloid. So it was with a real amount of dismay and anger that I read this story today at Tokyograph.
Apparently some cash-strapped studio big wig in Japan has thought that it would be a good idea to film a remake of "Harakiri"... and wait for it... in 3D! What makes this even worse is that none other than Takashi Miike has been tagged to helm this travesty. Of course Miike is coming off of another jidai-geki remake with his reimagining of Eiichi Kudo's 1963 film "13 Assassins". That film has been getting glowing reviews at Venice and here at the Toronto International Film Festival, but to take "Harakiri" and trvialize it by filming it in 3D is from my humble opinion unforgivable. Yes, the Japanese film industry is going through a time of horrible economic strife, but to cannibalize one of its best known and best loved classics just seems wrong in so many ways.
Okay - to some of the details of this... this... thing. Miike is set to direct while 32-year-old kabuki actor Ebizo Ichikawa is set to step into Tatsuya Nakadai's shoes as Hanshiro Tsugumo and the whole mess is set for a release in japanese theatres sometime next year. Undoubtedly there'll be action-packed 3D set pieces and with Miike in the director's chair I can only imagine what the already gruesome seppuku scene from Kobayashi's original will end up looking like... in 3D. Have your say in the comments, but I am so insulted by this whole idea.