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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.

Director:

Masaki Kobayashi

Writers:

Zenzô Matsuyama (screenplay), Masaki Kobayashi (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:
Tatsuya Nakadai ... Kaji
Michiyo Aratama ... Michiko
Chikage Awashima Chikage Awashima ... Tôfuku Kin
Ineko Arima ... Shunran Yô
Keiji Sada ... Kageyama
Sô Yamamura ... Okishima
Akira Ishihama Akira Ishihama ... Chin
Kôji Nanbara Kôji Nanbara ... (as Shinji Nanbara)
Seiji Miyaguchi Seiji Miyaguchi ... Kyôritsu Ô
Tôru Abe Tôru Abe ... Watarai Gunsô
Masao Mishima Masao Mishima ... Kuroki Shochô
Eitarô Ozawa Eitarô Ozawa ... Okazaki
Kôji Mitsui ... Furuya
Akitake Kôno Akitake Kôno ... Kôno Taii
Nobuo Nakamura Nobuo Nakamura ... Honsha Buchô
Edit

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) »

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese | Mandarin

Release Date:

14 December 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Human Condition I: No Greater Love See more »

Filming Locations:

Hokkaido, Japan See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ninjin Club,Shôchiku Eiga See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is the first part of a trilogy released in Japan over a period of about two years (1959 - 1961) under the overall title "Ningen no Jôken" ("The Human Condition"). The trilogy has a total running time of over nine-and-a-half hours. (The other two parts are titled The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity (1959) and The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer (1961).) If considered as a single work, as most critics and scholars do today, "The Human Condition" trilogy is the longest extant narrative fiction film created for theatrical release that has ever been made. All known films of greater duration than that of "The Human Condition" are either: a) lost films (e.g., the Chinese silent film Huo shao hong lian si (1928), which allegedly ran for 27 hours over 18 installments); b) documentary (i.e., nonfiction) films; c) experimental (i.e., non-narrative) films; or d) productions created for television broadcast. 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.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Nihon eiga no hyaku nen (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A simple soldier's view of this film.
12 October 2013 | by crubpniSee all my reviews

Hello, my name's Jacob. I'm a 21 year old guy, from Israel, forced to join the army at the age of 18 as nearly all people of my country have to, forced to waste 3 years of my life doing things I'd never want to do if only I was allowed to choose. I'm not a great movie buff. I'm a simple person, and I'd rather play a video game to kill time, but I do like action and war films which is how I got to see "The human condition" on some list here on IMDb. Sounded interesting, and so I decided to watch the 3 films. So this is a review about all 3...

The films accurately demonstrates, maybe to the extreme, what it is to be a peace-loving, good human being, in a place where fascism and cruelty reigns supreme. Some people may say that Kaji's character is too unbelievable. Too saint-like, to the point where it becomes frustrating. I say it's not true- It's a movie, not real life. Kaji's behaviour might not be realistic, he faces humanity's worst traits with his own altruist ideals of pacifism and equality, as if he's some sort of WW2 superhero. Saying one cannot identify with him is wrong, however, in my humble opinion, because even if maybe you wouldn't act the way he did when put in the same situations, you can appreciate the way he handled himself, you can admire him and aspire to be like him. He isn't a saint though, he makes mistakes, born out of the cruelty and misery that surrounds him, betraying at times the "code" that he is supposed to protect and follow, but even then, you know that ultimately deep down he's the same person, no matter how things go.

Seeing many many irrational things in my military service, I can relate to Kaji in many ways. Seeing people who dedicate their lives to controlling others for the sake of getting promoted, to get appreciated by their superiors who actually appreciate them about as little as they appreciate their own soldiers. People who care for their own interests far more than they care for the interests of those they are in charge of, crushing their wants and needs and deeming them unimportant in the blink of an eye, while their own interests take much higher priority... People who enforce and follow strict rules that are unbending and unreasonable, with such a passion, that it makes you think any reasonable man would dismiss those people as insane, yet still, those are the people who are in charge, because they are the ones who stay in the army and dedicate their lives to it and to it's incredible stupidity, while the real reasonable people go on to dedicate their lives to do something that might actually be beneficial to humanity. This has now officially become somewhat of a rant of how terrible military life and discipline is, maybe more so than it is a review of this series of movies. But why I am saying all of this? because these observations of mine- they are accurately depicted in this movie. If only these real life people that I know were just trying to be a bit better, a bit more human, more like Kaji, maybe my impression of what the army is like wouldn't have been so gloomy as they are now. Kaji, in the films, tries-everywhere he goes-to set things right for those around him, he goes through so many terrible things, scenes that are so... Vile, and so distorted from what you think of human nature as it is in our usually comfortable modern life, and with sheer willpower, he triumphs, even if his triumph is just in him, staying alive while everything else is gone. But ultimately, does it do him any good? If he were to die in the first movie, would that have been better? saved him the suffering of everything he went through later? Well, that is for you to decide. What these films have taught me, is that no matter how it ends, it is important for a person to do what he sees as the right thing to do, and to never lose sight of what the right thing to do is... I'd define a good movie as one that makes you think at the end. It doesn't have to be a cool plot twist at the end that makes you think, it just has to be a movie complex enough but also engaging enough to make you think at the end, because you didn't have time to figure out everything you wanted while you were watching it. At the end of the third movie however, I didn't have to think of anything. I had already absorbed everything. All I wanted was to sleep, and just couldn't. My mind was empty, and I could feel only one thing- awe. And that is why I rate "The human condition" 10/10.

I'm terribly sorry if what you just read sounded like a bunch of drivel. Maybe this review is not for you, and maybe the movie is not for you. But regardless, I thank you for reading it to the very end. Have a nice day.


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