Salient. Official Newspaper of Victoria University Students Assn. Volume 40 Number 2. Feb 7 1977
The Burmese Harp:
The Burmese Harp:
"The Burmese Harp is a sad poetic, mystical and semi-religious tale based clearly on certain elements in the Japanese ethos and the Japanese subconscious. The framework of the story concerns a soldier, presumed missing or dead, trying to make his way back home after the Japanese surrender. Dressed in Buddhist robes given him by a monk who sheltered him he sees every where on his way the corpses of his fellow countrymen, abandoned, forgotten and un-buried. It comes to him that it is, at the least, his duty to give them burial. And this task soon becomes his life, based on a kind of respect (the dead should be honoured) and a kind of expiation (why should they be dead and he still living?). These self-imposed duties are mingled with flashbacks to various wartime experiences with his unit; and the whole film proceeds on its path in a rather dreamlike manner, until we are willingly drawn into its mood of waking vision I had almost said sleepwalking — a vision touched with remorse, with regrets. In the end he falls in by chance with members of his old unit. They recognise him, despite his monk's habit, because he still carries the 'harp' from which he was always inseperable. But he does not overtly admit his identity, and in sympathy they let him go on his way. Let the dead bury their dead." - Basil Wright.
Ichikawa is among the most prolific of the world's directors (55 films to date), and is also one of the most stylistically diverse. Its quiet humanism should serve as a welcome antidote to the grandiose rubbish the American war-movie industry is continually foisting upon us.
- Simon Wilson.