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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.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Chikage Awashima ...
...
Shunran Yô
...
Kageyama
...
Akira Ishihama ...
Chin
Kôji Nanbara ...
(as Shinji Nanbara)
Seiji Miyaguchi ...
Tôru Abe ...
Watarai Gunsô
Masao Mishima ...
Eitarô Ozawa ...
...
Furuya
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) »

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

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

14 December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Human Condition I: No Greater Love  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A significant theme of Masaki Kobayashi's "Human Condition" trilogy is the obsessive love, bordering on worship, of the protagonist, Kaji, for his wife, Michiko, played in all three parts by Michiyo Aratama. Film director Masahiro Shinoda attributes the prominence of this theme to the impact upon Kobayashi's generation of the legendary French filmmakers of the 1930s, with their preoccupation with romantic love. However, according to Shinoda, this romantic idealization of the heroine was, for his own more cynical generation of Japanese film fans, a major stumbling block to their appreciation of the film. It was only later that Shinoda decided that he had no right to question Kobayashi's commitment to a feminine ideal, and accepted this aspect of the work as artistically valid. 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.
[...]
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Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
Spellbinding filmmaking
9 November 1999 | by See all my reviews

This is an excellent film about one man attempting to change the system. Kaji brings his youthful enthusiasm, idealism, and humanism against a cruel, unjust machine. The acting, direction, and cinematography are all world class. This is a gripping film which will leave you yearning for part two. This is just the start of a stunning epic.


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