Decline Of The Samurai: Decline of the Samurai

Harakiri. Kneeling in starched white death robes on a mat in the sacred garden, the desperate young warrior strips himself bare to the waist. He seizes a short sword, plunges it into his abdomen once. Twice. Three times. Four. He falls over the gory weapon. "Behead me!" he pleads, but before the last merciful blow is delivered he has bitten off his tongue.

In that grisly, excruciatingly detailed study of a samurai's ritual suicide, Japanese Director Masaki Kobayashi sets the theme of a 17th century tragedy on honor in death—and the death of honor. The...

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