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Reviews for The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer ( 1961 )

Kobayashi's masterpiece a great ensemble piece as well as vehicle for Tatsuya Nakadai (IMDB: 9)

On: 11/14/2019 12:00:00 AM By: ok_english_bt
It's hard to add anything to what others have written, only that Masaki Kobayashi's epic trilogy 'The Human Condition' is quite a marathon at nearly 10 hours, so you'd be well advised to pace yourself. I found it worth pausing anyway, just to reflect on all the things I'd seen in chief protagonist Private Kaji's harrowing journey. The film never shies away from difficult moments and showing the terrible effects of wartime. I don't remember many parts where the character played by Tatsuya Nakadai isn't either in shot or watching events as they unfold uncomfortably from his point of view. This is very much a painful journey into self as well as a physical happening, as the private faces insurmountable odds and conflicts to his humanitarian beliefs.

What impressed me most about 'The Human Condition' was the quality of the acting and film-making throughout, Kobayashi must have had absolute commitment from everyone involved as he tried to faithfully re-enact the events of Junpei Gumikawa's great novel. For me, the director's's work here is the ultimate 'slowburn', events unfolding at their own pace, steadily and powerfully!

Any highlighting of parts is bound to feel personal, possibly arbitrary, but I did find Part II 'Road to Eternity' rather dull and disengaging as Kaji works through problems related to the barracks where he's stationed. Part III 'The Soldier's Prayer' on the other hand opens the story up as the soldier flees the warzone in Manchuria with remnants of the Japanese Kwantung army he fought alongside. It's the classic odyssey tale as Kaji aims to get home to find his wife and get his old life back. He naturally falls into the leadership role to help his fellow deserters survive, and they face many adventures and ordeals on the war-strewn way. The much wider ensemble cast of characters lend the story gravitas and interest (harking back to Part I 'No Greater Love' when Kaji worked as a labour camp supervisor amongst the enslaved Chinese). We ponder the human condition now with a much wider viewpoint as it unravels in the fallout of war: famine, POW's, refugees, hardship, chaos, cruelty and ultimately great disillusionment ...

The strains of human existence are there for all to see in Kobayashi's powerful critique of war, really no winners in this epic struggle ... the ending becomes inevitable!

It's a long journey but well worth it (IMDB: 9)

On: 3/10/2019 12:00:00 AM By: Marwan-Bob
The Human Condition 10 Hours Long 10 Hours Deep, Without a Doubt the Greatest Anti-War Statement Ever Made... What A Journey.

devastating brutality (IMDB: 10)

On: 6/15/2018 12:00:00 AM By: overdarklord
The third and final part of "The Human Condition" series is the most brutal, breathtaking and deeply disturbing movie of the three. All the beating you saw in the second part cant even come close to how physically, but especially psychologically brutal and disturbing this movie can be. This movie ultimatly playes with the idea that no matter how much of a good person you are, which in the case of our main protagonist, Kaji was shown throughout the last 2 movies, you will always been judged by steriotypes and clichee rather than on your actions and what you have been going through. Is it right to torture and treat people the same way they treated others, even if they have been forced by the military and the zeitgeist of the moment? Is it morally justifiable? This is something everyone has to answer for themself, this movie just shows you this idea in an objective manner not really taking any sides.

With watching this series Masaki Kobayashi, finally made the case for him being the best japanese director of the last century in my opinion. And it also made the case for Tatsuya Nakadai being the best actor of the last century. The emotions this man can convey with this performance by far surpass anything I have seen from any other japanese actor of the last century. The character development Kaji endured throughout the series but especially through this final part was written perfectly and absolutely believably portrayed.

The Ten Hour Film Format has some Merits (IMDB: 10)

On: 6/14/2013 12:00:00 AM By: info-510-415409
This trilogy was a grueling and rewarding. It was chilling to watch but I persevered. It was about the conflict between nationalism and the individual struggling for humanism. If you transfer yourself to post WW2 Japan you could see how powerful this film was. It was necessary for the soul searching that was to heal the results of the war.

It is as important today as it was then.

This trilogy affected me deeply after watching it.

There is hardly a frame in the ten hours that does not have any sub-text associated with it.

The ten hour film format has some merits maybe it will catch on.

The End of Kaji's Journey (IMDB: 10)

On: 2/14/2013 12:00:00 AM By: claudio_carvalho
The Japanese troops are defeated by the Soviets and Kaji (Tatsuya Nakadai) heads with three survivors to South Manchurian expecting to meet his wife. Along their crossing through the enemy line in the Manchurian land, other Japanese survivors join Kaji's group, but they need to fight against the Chinese militias and the Soviets.

When they reach a Japanese village with women and one old man, a militia arrives in the place and Kaji and his men surrender to the Soviet to spare the women. The POWs are sent to a labor work camp and Kaji sees no difference between the treatment of the Japanese fascists and the Soviet communists, in which principles Kaji believed. He decides to escape from the camp to meet his beloved Michiko again.

"The Human Condition – Parts V & VI" is the last sequel of the heartbreaking anti-war masterpiece by Masaki Kobayashi. The story is impressively realistic and magnificently shot with top-notch camera work, giving the sensation of a documentary. I have seen many powerful movies about war, such as "Der Untergang", "Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo", "La Battaglia di Algeri", "Paths of Glory" and "Apocalypse Now" among others. But "The Human Condition" is certainly the most scathing antiwar movie that I have seen and I did not feel the 574 minutes running time in a black-and-white movie spoken in Japanese, Mandarin and Russian with English subtitles.

It is impressive to see the treatment spent by the fascist Japanese soldiers for the rookies and how Kaji grows-up and learns how his idealistic concept of communism is shattered when he becomes a POW and swaps his initial position of supervisor to the one of prisoner. The hopeless conclusion fits perfectly to this masterpiece and shows that in times of war, people are far from the condition for being human to survive. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): Not Available

Contemporary Kraftsmanship (IMDB: 10)

On: 5/24/2012 12:00:00 AM By: holytrousers
anyone who is seriously interested in understanding what's wrong with the "human" should watch this excellent piece of art. Tatusuya nakadai is delivering here an astonish performance.

Kobayashi is definitely one of the greatest directors and offers precision and coherence to this trilogy. Music is obviously an tremendous emotional experience. There is no necessity to write much, the movie speaks for itself as long as one understands the movements and rhythms conveyed through the subtle evolution of the main character. A long trilogy worth watching till the end in the vein of harakiri (seppuku). PS. understanding our history seems to be of great importance, especially in the actual political context of unrest, what happened and is happening in the arab world is a very important issue, violence unfortunately still prevails.

abolishing authority of any kind (y compris nationalism, religions, traditions, ego etc.) seems the only way out.

personality effecting movie (IMDB: 10)

On: 3/20/2012 12:00:00 AM By: ibts12
i had listened a lot about this movie but was unlucky that i had not seen this. This is a fascinating movie and i think that i am still feeling effect of the movie on my personality. I never imagined that even a movie can effect someone so much,and also there is feeling that what should be an excellent human condition ( as shown by Kaji and his wife) and what is prevailing human condition as we see around us. I have deep regards for all the crew of the movie who provided us a worth seeing and personality effecting movie. I dedicate all I have learned to the director of movie Masaki Kobayashi.

I have given the movie 10/10 because i find no point to deduct even a single mark. I recommend all serious movie viewers to kindly must see this movie and try to learn from it.

Love is the Condition for Being Human (IMDB: 10)

On: 4/9/2010 12:00:00 AM By: jouler500-art
Ningen no j?ken is a masterpiece film but is also painful to watch most of the time. Nonetheless, it is a tour de force to be lauded for its direction, cinematography and acting at every turn. Most of those commenting in previous discussions mention the virulent anti-war sentiment of the film which is abundantly evident. It was interesting that much of the film is autobiographical, inspired by Kobayashi's war experiences. He too refused to be an officer when he qualified, and stayed a private throughout the war. An interesting point came up when I was watching the fourth DVD in the Criterion edition of The HumanCondition which is a series of three insightful interviews. During his comments the director Masahiro Shinoda mentioned that he thought at the time, the romantic love Kaji had for his wife, Michiko, was overly sentimental and unrealistic. He thought that it was due to the fact that Kobayashi and his peers were born of another age whose romanticism was the norm and unsullied by his generation's sobering war experience. He said that he had also consulted the internet to see the opinions of the film among contemporary young people in Japan today, and found that they too, thought the love unrealistic. He felt the love should have been more erotic and less idealized. The remarks of another commentator solidified my opinion of this issue about Kaji's love. That writer stated that the title really means more like "condition for being human." This confirmed my opinion that Kobayashi's point of the film is that what makes one human, in the best sense of the word, is love. Otherwise we devolve into some type of cruel bestiality found in the phrase 'man's inhumanity to man.' This inhumanity is evident throughout the film, whether in the sadism of the other Japanese soldiers, the cruelty of the guards to the Chinese prisoners, or in the malice of the of the Russian overseers. However, the Kaji character is set apart: he sticks to his ideals, he is humble, he displays selflessness as seen when he gives his food to another or when leading the men and puts them ahead of himself. He is a type of everyman whose being is elevated above merely satisfying physical needs and responding to base instincts. He remains an ennobled human not a saint above the fray, but his love gives him the will to live, to continue on and to even do good when surrounded by evil. Love is the condition for being human.

Possibly the greatest anti-war statement (IMDB: 10)

On: 11/4/2007 12:00:00 AM By: Trouter2000
When people think of anti-war films titles such as Platoon, All Quiet on the Western Front and Schindler's List almost immediately come to mind; such films have defined the genre in American culture. However very few directors have provided the perspective from the axis point of view, and fewer still were able to do so in a way that humanizes all countries, not just the protagonist's. Masaki Kobayashi, who is most well known for his samurai pictures such as Seppuku and Samurai Rebellion is able to form such a film, without even a hint of pretentiousness.

The series of films spans nearly ten hours, following a pacifist named Kaji (Tatsuya Nakadai), as he struggles to keep his principles during war times. First as an overseer of a P.O.W. camp, then as a soldier. Due to the length of the film, the level of character development and acting quality, we end up feeling his frustration, pain and triumphs, as each occasion leaves room for both a triumph of the human spirit and subjugation of it. Kaji despises both warfare and violence of all kinds, yet tries to rationalize it for the good of those around him. We become so attached to him and his struggle, that we begin to feel similarly, and as a result we are left with one of the most moving chronicles of the loss that war becomes. I won't spoil anything, but any viewer will be floored by the end, it left me utterly breathless.

So overall I recommend it quite highly, its one of the few great anti-war statements that has aged VERY well in the modern day, and possibly Kobayashi's greatest work. Never slow, yet at the same time never glorifying the action, it is a film that I eagerly await to see re-released.


not the gangster slash-em-up buddy film you thought it would be (IMDB: 7)

On: 5/5/2004 12:00:00 AM By: errandjones
If you have any remote interest in film go see this right away. Don't bother watching if you are too scared to attempt the entire 10 hours in one sitting. It's worth it and then some. The actor playing Kaji was terrific and each part turns out better than the last (everything really, the acting/camera work... all the bells and whistles just sound better the further in you get). It definitely struck me as something Adolfas Mekas would totally dig, which says a lot. This is a must see. If you decide to bring the wife and kids (or husband and mother-in-law or what- have-you) just be warned: this movie involves a fair amount of human suffering, on and off the screen. -Ed Hellman.