Tale of Hanshiro the samurai returns to the Croisette

Takashi Miike © AFP

Ichimei (Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai) by Takashi Miike is presented in Competition at the Cannes Festival. The Japanese director’s latest feature film is a 3D remake of Seppuku (Harakiri) by Masaki Kobayashi, which took the Special Jury Prize in 1963.

Ichimei is Takashi Miike’s 3D retelling of the tale of the samurai Hanshiro, almost 50 years after it was first presented at Cannes with Tatsuya Nakadai in the starring role. Peace has come to 17th-century Japan, and the country is ruled with a firm hand. Hanshiro, an out-of-work samurai played by Ebizô Ichikawa, decides to knock on the door of the powerful Iyi clan. Received by clan quartermaster Kageyu, he begs permission to perform ritual suicide, or hara-kiri, a ruse commonly used to elicit pity and perhaps even employment. In an attempt to dissuade him, Saito recounts the story of Motome who, like him, was an out-of-work samurai who wished to perform the same ritual. When he failed to muster the pity of the Iyi clan, he was forced to go through with his stated intention of suicide. Motome turns out to be none other than Hanshiro’s son-in-law; Hanshiro has in fact come to take his revenge…
Prior to Ichimei, Takashi Miike had directed the samurai remake 13 Assassins, inspired by Eiichi Kudo’s 1963 feature film The Thirteen Assassins, a genre of Japanese cinema previously honoured in Cannes. In 1980, Kagemusha by Akira Kurosawa shared the Palme d’Or with All that Jazz directed by Bob Fosse. With Ichimei, Takashi Miike becomes the first director of a 3D title to contest the Palme d’Or.


The film is to be screened in 3D at 11.30 a.m. and 10.30 p.m. in the Grand Théâtre Lumière.