Saturday, August 3, 2013

166 of 1001 Movies: The Burmese Harp (1956)

The Burmese Harp is more of an impressive film than I expected. It resonates with you after watching and is difficult to forget.  It creates characters that are some of the rarer ones in movies, and that is the ones that drive the plot and are the core of the story instead of the action. If you're looking for a movie showing the action of World War 2 then this isn't it. It is more so showing Japan's various recovery for the soldiers after finding out they had surrendered during World War 2.

Summary: After Captain Inouye has found out that the war has ended  in World War 2 he surrenders himself and the troops to not risk their lives continuing to fight for a cause that is shut down. There are other Japanese units though that do not know the war has ended, so the British troops allow for one Japanese soldier to leave and communicate to them that it has stopped. Mizumshima takes on the task not knowing the other unit will have different feelings and not surrender. After witnessing their deaths he leaves and begins the lifestyle of a Buddhist Monk, and leaving his fellow Japanese soldiers who have surrendered to wonder if he is still alive.

Acting: I think apart from the main actors the smaller actors in the movie are a bit weak, and there are awkward shots of their faces that make it more obvious they are overacting a bit. The lead actors as Mizumshima and the Captain do very well though. They keep their roles quite calm, but they still speak a lot of emotion. I like how when the guy becomes a monk you still feel a lot coming from him, and the scenes where he burying the dead from their side is very emotionally riveting. If anything you get insight to the things important in their culture.

Filming: The filming of this movie is quite beautiful. I think the director captures the setting well, and he makes really pop with realism. You have a movie that is created with nature surrounding it, and it merges the scenery of war, and a place trying to thrive again well. I also was impressed by the music as well. The musical score was well placed with the scenes, and I felt it made the movie that much more powerful. There aren't many movies from the 50's that have scores that strike an emotion since they sound pretty generic.

Plot: The plot is quite beautiful and tragic in it's own way. Though we never lose the characters we become close to we do feel the lose they are sensing, and the apprehension of returning home. I kept wondering what they would find once they got home, and how the soldiers might be unaware of the loses that awaited them in their own land. I think that is the thought that stayed strongest with me, especially since Mizumshima was staying behind just to mourn and bury his own dead from his land there.

The Burmese Harp somehow is compelling despite the slow moving pace, and the sort of predictable ending. I think the characters being likable despite the side they fought on helps. They are respectful even to their captors. I also like the relationship they form with other characters in the village as the movie grows, and the movie does build you up to wonder how the meeting will finally be if the monk ever reveals who he is.

Rating 7 of 10.

The Burmese Harp (1956) on IMDb

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