Kon Ichikawa

The Burmese Harp

The Burmese Harp

An Imperial Japanese Army regiment surrenders to British forces in Burma at the close of World War II and finds harmony through song. A private, thought to be dead, disguises himself as a Buddhist monk and stumbles upon spiritual enlightenment. Magnificently shot in hushed black and white, Kon Ichikawa’s The Burmese Harp is an eloquent meditation on beauty coexisting with death and remains one of Japanese cinema’s most overwhelming antiwar statements, both tender and brutal in its grappling with Japan’s wartime legacy.

Film Info

  • Kon Ichikawa
  • Japan
  • 1956
  • 116 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • Japanese
  • Spine #379

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New video interviews with director Kon Ichikawa and actor Rentaro Mikuni
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A new essay by renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns

New cover by Michael Boland

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New video interviews with director Kon Ichikawa and actor Rentaro Mikuni
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A new essay by renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns

New cover by Michael Boland

The Burmese Harp
Cast
Rentaro Mikuni
Captain Inouye
Shoji Yasui
Private Mizushima
Taniye Kitabayashi
Nippon woman
Tatsuya Mihashi
Defense commander
Yunosuke Ito
Village head
Credits
Director
Kon Ichikawa
Producer
Masayuki Takaki
Original story
Michio Takeyama
Screenplay
Natto Wada
Cinematography
Minoru Yokoyama
Lighting
Ko Fujibayashi
Sound
Masakazu Kamiya
Music
Akira Ifukube
Editing
Masanori Tsuji

From The Current

The Burmese Harp: Unknown Soldiers

The Burmese Harp was the forty-one-year-old Ichikawa Kon’s twenty-seventh feature, and the first real landmark in his career. He had entered the film industry as an animator (his first film was a ­twenty-­minute puppet short), but switched to liv…

By Tony Rayns


Mar 17, 2007
The Burmese Harp

In beautifully composed black-and-white, lilting easily from sweeping landscape to emotional close-up, and tempered by a gentle and nostalgic choral score, director Kon Ichikawa's The Burmese Harp probes deeply into the moral chaos of war. Following …

By Audie Bock


Jan 28, 1993