The winner is Harakiri – 1962:
Harakiri Rating (3.5 out of 5)
Hara-Kiri Rating (3 out of 5)
Summary: Scott came home to visit, and we decided to watch both Harakiri movies. I liked the original Harakiri from 1962 versus the 2011 remake. The focus on the relationship between Hanshiro and Masakuzu resonated more with me. The two battle-tested veterans talking to each other, trying to find a life and a peaceful Japan.
The other portion separating these two movies was the focus on the love between Miho and Motome. 1962 assumed we knew the two children loved each other. 2011 focused on the relationship between Miho and Motome. The difference was the sadness of Motome’s in 2011 versus the Hanshiro’s despair in their death in 1962.
Both are good, but the original is better despite the 60s drama.
1962 Details: One of my favorite aspects of this version was Hanshiro. His grunts of wonder were that wee bit of humor the film needed to release the tension. He would ask for an individual warrior to be his second. He would be informed that the particular samurai wasn’t available. Hanshiro would grunt. The grunt was his way of prodding.
While both fights scenes are entertaining, I preferred the 1962. The one on one battles to get the top knots was more realistic of the fights. In the last fight, Hanshiro turns away from the wind because he is an experienced samurai. Even during the final battle, you are reminded that he is a battle-tested samurai and the others are playing samurai.
2011 Details: The spiral down for Motome is heart-wrenching in this version. Realizing he tried everything to save his son and wife, and then was forced to commit Harakiri was more powerful in this version. The focus slowed the pace of the film.
The fight scene in the 2011 was good as well. In this version, Hanshiro fights the clan with a bamboo sword. The moment he pulls the sword out was cool, as the warriors were surprised. They are even more surprised as he whips them across the forehead and throat. The realization of the clan warriors that it would have meant their death, had it been a real sword was fun.