IMDb > The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959/I)

The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959/I) More at IMDbPro »Ningen no jôken (original title)

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Zenzô Matsuyama (screenplay) &
Masaki Kobayashi (screenplay) ...
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Release Date:
14 December 1959 (USA) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
5 wins & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Catching the Train Of Humanism See more (17 total) »


  (in credits order)

Directed by
Masaki Kobayashi 
Writing credits
Zenzô Matsuyama (screenplay) &
Masaki Kobayashi (screenplay)

Jumpei Gomikawa (novel) (as Junpei Gomikawa)

Produced by
Shigeru Wakatsuki .... producer
Original Music by
Chûji Kinoshita 
Cinematography by
Yoshio Miyajima 
Film Editing by
Keiichi Uraoka 
Art Direction by
Kazue Hirataka 
Production Management
Shigeru Wakatsuki .... production manager

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Ningen no jôken" - Japan (original title)
"Human Condition I: No Greater Love" - USA (DVD title)
"The Human Condition I" - USA
See more »
208 min | West Germany:157 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Revealing mistakes: 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 »
[first lines]
Michiko:This isn't like you.
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 »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in 100 Years of Japanese Cinema (1995) (TV)See more »


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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
Catching the Train Of Humanism, 23 May 2013
Author: Nick-leonardi from USA

"The Human Condition" is an extremely acclaimed trilogy of movies, directed by Masaki Kobayashi and based on the novel by Jompei Gomikawa. Starring Tatsuya Nakadai, the whole trilogy is considered to be one of the greatest achievements in Japanese cinema history, a true landmark gem that is the very definition of an Epic World War II movie.

The first part of the series is "No Greater Love": Kaji and his wife Michiko move to Manchuria, at the time colonized by the Japanese. There, Kaji works as a labor supervisor in a camp of Chinese prisoners. Being a convinced pacifist, Kaji tries desperately to help the Chinese by promising that no harm will be inflicted to them by the Japanese supervisors, and at the same time, out hero struggles with his superiors because of his strong will to bring a bit of humanity to the brutal conditions in which the prisoners live in. Kaji of course will find it hard to satisfy either the prisoners or the bosses, especially when some of the Chinese prisoners start escaping.

Despite the massive length of this first chapter (three hours and a half), "No Greater Love" is consistently a thrill to watch, because it's easy to sympathize with the protagonist, it's easy to see everything through his eyes and as a consequence to be fully engaged in his struggles. Kaji however is never truly appreciated, not even by the Chinese, who are always skeptical of his humanism. From an artistic point of view, there's nothing you need more in a film: a great script, a memorable performance by leading man Tatsuya Nakadai, and perhaps above all, the masterful touch of director Masaki Kobayashi, who never fails to frame beautiful shots and, with the help of the art department and cinematographer Yoshio Miyajima, to create a perfect, earthy atmosphere.

Although it's more of a long introduction to the story of the trilogy as a whole, setting-wise, and, if you will, stylistically, it's a completely different beast than its follow-ups: "No Greater Love" as a matter of fact is a stand-alone masterpiece, if you don't count the necessarily abrupt ending that directly connects it with the next two films. This film alone already is one of the great feature films of Japanese cinema, a statement that ought to imply the authentic greatness of this trilogy.

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