Part three of a trilogy. After the Japanese defeat to the Russians in the last episode, Kaji, the Japanese soldier and humanist protagonist, leads the last remaining men through Manchuria .... See full summary »
Part three of a trilogy. After the Japanese defeat to the Russians in the last episode, Kaji, the Japanese soldier and humanist protagonist, leads the last remaining men through Manchuria . Intent on returning to his dear wife and his old life, Kaji faces great odds in a variety of different harrowing circumstances as he and his fellow men sneak behind enemy lines. Ultimately, he finds himself in the exact opposite position he held in the first episode: then a labor manager, Kaji is now a prisoner of war, forced to work for the Russians, whom do not seem to hold to the Communist ideals in which Kaji himself had put his faith. Written by
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.
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