"Artfully crafted historical samurai drama that criticizes hollow concepts of honor and meaningless conventions. A film that is as difficult as it is enlightening for our understanding."

Movie Data

Title: Seppuku
Published: 1962
Length: 135 minutes

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Script: Shinobu Hashimoto
Music: Tōru Takemitsu
Camera: Yoshio Miyajima

Tatsuya Nakadai: Hanshiro Tsugumo
Rentarō Mikuni: Kageyu Saitō
Shima Iwashita: Miho Tsugumo
Akira Ishihama: Motome Chijiiwa


Peace in 17th-century Japan leads to the shogunate dissolving the warrior clans. Thousands of samurai lose their jobs and fall into poverty. An honorable ending to such a fate, according to samurai code, is ritual suicide, or hara-kiri (in Japanese: seppuku).
An elderly warrior, Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai), requests entry to a feudal lord's house to commit the deed. There he learns of the fate of his son-in-law, a young samurai who was looking for work in the house. He was barbarically forced to commit traditional seppuku with a blunt bamboo blade.
In flashbacks, the samurai tells the tragic story of his son-in-law. He had to sell his real sword to feed his sick wife and child. With this, Tsugumo starts an exciting revenge fight against the house of this feudal lord.


The film entered competition at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival and won a Special Jury Prize. It is considered one of the best samurai films ever made.