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1001 Movies in Chronological Order
63 years ago...

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The Burmese Harp (1956)
Director: Kon Ichikawa
Country: Japan
Length: 116 minutes
Type: War, Drama

'The Burmese Harp' ('Biruma no Tategoto') takes place in the immediate aftermath of the Burma Campaign and Japan's surrender in 1945. We experience this era through the eyes of the noble Captain Inouye's unit, who boost their morale by singing and playing the titular harp. Private Mizushima is lost on a final desperate mission to try and persuade another suicidal Japanese unit to surrender. Inouye's troop find themselves in a POW camp, while Mizushima wonders Burma in the guise of a Buddhist Monk, burying the bodies of Japanese soldiers. There is something about the black & white photography, religious themes, emotional string music and shots of barbed wire camps that made me think of 'Schindler's List'. Other acclaimed films based on the Burma Campaign from the same period include 'A Town Like Alice' and 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' but 'The Burmese Harp' might be the most eloquent. The scene where Mizushima plays for his comrades one last time is so sad.

Kon Ichikawa remade his film in 1985 in color:

Another John Wayne Western next.

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