The Human Condition is a Japanese epic film trilogy made between 1959 and 1961. The trilogy follows the life of Kaji, a Japanese pacifist and socialist, as he tries to survive in the fascist and oppressive world of WWII-era Japan. No Greater Love (1959) opens with Kaji marrying his sweetheart Michiko despite his misgivings about the future.
|Original Title||:||人間の條件 第１部純愛篇／第２部激怒篇|
|Release Date||:||January 15, 1959|
|Genres||:||War, Drama, History|
|Production Company||:||Shôchiku Eiga, Ninjin Club|
|Writers||:||Jumpei Gomikawa, Masaki Kobayashi, Zenzô Matsuyama|
|Casts||:||Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Chikage Awashima, Ineko Arima, Sô Yamamura, Akira Ishihama, Kôji Nanbara, Seiji Miyaguchi, Tôru Abe, Masao Mishima, Eitarô Ozawa, Kôji Mitsui, Akitake Kôno, Nobuo Nakamura, Kyû Sazanka, Eijirô Tôno, Shinsuke Ashida, Keiji Sada, Yasushi Nagata, Yoshio Kosugi, Toshiko Kobayashi, Taiji Tonoyama, Akira Tani, Junji Masuda, Torahiko Hamada, Teruko Kishi, Takamaru Sasaki, Akio Isono, Jun Ôtomo, Junkichi Orimoto, Zenichi Inagawa, Shinichirô Minami, Hôsei Komatsu, Tokuko Sugiyama, Sue Mitobe, Nobuo Takagi, Masami Maehata, Keiji Tsuchida, Isao Suenaga, Jun Tanizaki, Hisashi Taki, Haruko Chichibu, Tsuneko Sasaki, Kanji Ôsugi, Ryuji Kita|
|Plot Keywords||:||japan, japanese, fascism, world war ii, conscientious objector, escape from prison, snow, soldier, chinese, shallow grave, mandarin, ore mine|
"No Greater Love" is the first part of the 9 hours 47 minutes trilogy directed by Masaki Kobayashi based on the six-volume novel by Junpei Gomikawa. A captivating, haunting, and touching anti-war epic film where Kobayashi masterfully criticizes and confronts the Japanese practices and applications via WW2 through a self-righteous character who is trying to "catch the train of humanism before it's too late".
Kaji is a socialist and a pacifist with great morals. His self- righteousness is shown from the first beginning when he refuses to sleep with his girlfriend for the concern of being enlisted soon in the army and not be able to fulfill his duties towards her. He has his own theories and principles also in dealing with work environment and laborers. He gets a job offer to be a supervisor in an iron mine in a small Manchurian village. Since he opposes war, he accepts it as his only way out of conscription. He also gets to be with his girlfriend (they soon marry).
Kaji now in his new work faces moral dilemmas that prove day by day not to be easier than those he was going to face in the military. He struggles with the old, brutal, and oppressive mentalities. Things get nastier when 600 Chinese men are brought to the mine as prisoners of war.. plots, deceptions, racism, torture.. the list goes on. Many try to shake his convictions by convincing him that the theories may prove wrong when applied, and also that peace theories do not apply in war time. His answer was that either the theories are wrong or they were faultily applied. Yet, even his wife doubts his intentions for a moment.. will he surrender?
Kobayashi's humanist film is a delicate study of the human psychology during hardships and the capabilities of the man to stand still and fight for what is right. It is also a sincere revision to a difficult era in Japanese history, reacting responsibly in opening a new page for the coming generations. "It's not my fault that I'm Japanese.. yet, it's my worst crime that I am", states Kaji. What can we do to deserve this beautiful name "man", one prisoner ask him.
Kaji represents in his fight to become the man not the beast all humanity not only of course the Japanese.. every generation from the first beginning. The masterful Kobayashi contributes greatly to this epic film with extraordinary execution.. and Tatsuya Nakadai was a great choice for the leading role. A piece of art considered by many to be one of the greatest ever.