An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
From the Criterion Collection: "Among the first Japanese films to deal directly with the scars of World War II, this drama about a group of rank-and-file Japanese soldiers jailed for crimes... See full summary »
On his deathbed, a wealthy businessman announces that his fortune is to be split equally among his three illegitimate children, whose whereabouts are unknown to his family and colleagues. A... See full summary »
Kaji is sent to the Japanese army labeled Red and is mistreated by the vets. Along his assignment, Kaji witnesses cruelties in the army; he revolts against the abusive treatment spent to the recruit Obara that commits suicide; he also sees his friend Shinjô Ittôhei defecting to the Russian border; and he ends in the front to fight a lost battle against the Russian tanks division. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"The Road To Eternity" is the second film of the cinematic Human Condition trilogy based on the novel by Jompei Gomikawa. Although this is not a very popular series of films in the Western world, it is generally very well received by those who have the good fortune of coming across this extraordinary achievement. This second installment, like the rest of them, is directed by Masaki Kobayashi and stars Tatsuya Nakadai, reprising his role as the main character of the previous movie, "No Greater Love".
Kaji, who in the first movie was a labor supervisor in a Manchurian camp during World War II, has now been drafted in the army, and is being trained. Kaji is still the main protagonist, but his current position as a simple soldier makes him appear somewhat less of a hero, which was the kind of figure he demonstrated to be in the first film. Essentially, there is less character-glorification on "Road to Eternity", favoring instead a global and strongly derogative portrayal of the Japanese army during WWII.
As a whole, The Human Condition's essential themes are pacifism and the futility of war, two concepts that were clearly brought to the table in the first chapter, but are somewhat less prominent on "Road To Eternity". Kaji's passionate ideas that he himself previously had openly preached, are now locked in him, thus explaining the overall weaker delivery of the principal themes of the trilogy. So, he gets beaten up often by the veterans that rank higher up than him, but at the same time, he befriends with his lower-ranked soldiers and gains their trust and loyalty.
But beware, although this is possibly the weakest of the three movies, director Masaki Kobayashi himself fails at nearly nothing: his shots are of a mesmerizing beauty, just like the sharp cinematography by Yoshio Miyajima, who also worked in the other two films of the trilogy. Throw in the mix Chuji Kinoshita's score and you have another extremely successful film, that has both style and narrative gravitas, which somberly leads the events of the movie to an abrupt end, that perfectly sets the stage for the third and final chapter of the trilogy: "a Soldier's Prayer".
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