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The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959)

Ningen no jôken (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 14 December 1959 (USA)
A Japanese pacifist, unable to face the dire consequences of conscientious objection, is transformed by his attempts to compromise with the demands of war-time Japan.

Director:

Masaki Kobayashi

Writers:

Zenzô Matsuyama (screenplay), Masaki Kobayashi (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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7 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tatsuya Nakadai ... Kaji
Michiyo Aratama ... Michiko
Chikage Awashima ... Tôfuku Kin
Ineko Arima ... Shunran Yô
Keiji Sada ... Kageyama
Sô Yamamura ... Okishima
Akira Ishihama Akira Ishihama ... Chin
Kôji Nanbara Kôji Nanbara ... (as Shinji Nanbara)
Seiji Miyaguchi ... Kyôritsu Ô
Tôru Abe Tôru Abe ... Watarai Gunsô
Masao Mishima Masao Mishima ... Kuroki Shochô
Eitarô Ozawa ... Okazaki
Kôji Mitsui ... Furuya
Akitake Kôno Akitake Kôno ... Kôno Taii
Nobuo Nakamura ... Honsha Buchô
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Storyline

In the World War II, the pacifist and humanist Japanese Kaji accepts to travel with his wife Michiko to the tiny Manchurian village Loh Hu Liong to work as supervisor in an iron ore mine to avoid to be summoned to the military service. Kaji works with Okishima (Sô Yamamura) and he implements a better treatment to the laborers and improves the mine production. When the feared Kempetai (The "Military Police Corps", the military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1881 to 1945) brings six hundred Chinese POWs to the mine, Kaji negotiates with their leaders expecting them to control their comrades. However the methods of Kaji upset the corrupt system in the site, and the foreman Furuya (Kôji Mitsui) plots a scheme to use the naive Chen (Akira Ishihama) to turn off the electrical power of the barbwire fences to allow the prisoners to escape. When seven prisoners are falsely accused of an attempt of fleeing, a cruel Kempetai sergeant uses his sword to behead the prisoners. When ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

1940s | japanese | pow | chinese | ore mine | See All (39) »

Taglines:

An extraordinary picture of man's fate and man's hope...

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese | Mandarin

Release Date:

14 December 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Human Condition I: No Greater Love See more »

Filming Locations:

Hokkaido, Japan See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ninjin Club, Shochiku See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is the first part of a trilogy released in Japan over a period of about two years (1959 - 1961) under the overall title "Ningen no Jôken" ("The Human Condition"). The trilogy has a total running time of over nine-and-a-half hours. (The other two parts are titled The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity (1959) and The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer (1961).) If considered as a single work, as most critics and scholars do today, "The Human Condition" trilogy is the longest extant narrative fiction film created for theatrical release that has ever been made. All known films of greater duration than that of "The Human Condition" are either: a) lost films (e.g., the Chinese silent film Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery (1928), which allegedly ran for 27 hours over 18 installments); b) documentary (i.e., nonfiction) films; c) experimental (i.e., non-narrative) films; or d) productions created for television broadcast. See more »

Goofs

At one point a Japanese guard begins to whip Kao, yet the motions he makes are just a flailing of his arms, visibly missing the actor. Kao retaliates by throwing a rock at the guard, but the rock never strikes the guard. However, the actor playing the guard overreacts as if he has been struck. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Michiko: This isn't like you.
Kaji: Why?
Michiko: You're running away. Don't you want me?
Kaji: Of course I do.
Michiko: And I want you, too. Yet we can't marry-...
Kaji: How many times must I explain?
Michiko: Because you might be called up? I wouldn't care if it was the day after. Of course I'd cry. I'd cry bitterly. But happiness only lies in marrying the one you love.
Kaji: Alright. I'll take you back to my dormitory. You'll stay with me tonight. Alright?
Michiko: Yes, I'll go.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Followed by The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer (1961) See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the greatest anti-war movies of all time
17 May 2008 | by shemichaelsSee all my reviews

Kobayashi's "The Human Condition" is one of a handful of great anti-war movies. While Japanese film has confronted its own crimes of war more than other cinema, I am only familiar with one other Japanese movie which deals directly with the war & the plight of conscientious objectors: Kurosawa's "No Regrets for Our Youth". Many films deal with the futility of war: "Seven Samurai" & "Yojimbo" come immediately to mind. But "Human Condition" takes on the enormity of war, & the means by which everyone becomes complicit in its total corruption. The hero, though a Conscientious Objector, becomes a colonial occupier, an exploiter of slave labor, an employer of a madam who runs a camp of women & girls impressed into prostitution, & generally runs the gamut of crimes against humanity while trying to maintain his virtue & love's beauty.

Parts II & III also explore the brutality of the army toward its own soldiers, & the complete desecration of the ideals of the Russian Revolution & the cruelty of ordinary Chinese villagers.

"The Human Condition" should be ranked with "Grand Illusion", though what could be as lyrical as the Renoir film? If only this were require viewing in all military academies. If only it were required viewing for all lawmakers & the executive. Is that asking too much?


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