9 user 31 critic

The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity (1959)

Ningen no jôken (original title)
As a conscript in war-time Japan's military, a pacifist struggles to maintain his determination to keep his ideals.


Masaki Kobayashi


Zenzô Matsuyama (screenplay), Masaki Kobayashi (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

at Amazon

3 wins. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

His ideals challenged by life as a conscript in war-time Japan's military, a pacifist faces ever greater tests in his fight for survival.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Tamao Nakamura
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

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
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Chikage Awashima
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Yôko Tsukasa, Gô Katô
Harakiri (1962)
Action | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

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.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita
Kwaidan (1964)
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A collection of four Japanese folk tales with supernatural themes.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Rentarô Mikuni, Michiyo Aratama, Misako Watanabe
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Two-hundred million yen is up for grabs in a dying businessman's will. The businessman intends to will it to his 3 illegitimate children, but his associates scheme to take advantage of the situation.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Keiko Kishi, Tatsuya Nakadai, Sô Yamamura
Black River (1957)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A love triangle develops between a benevolent student, his innocent girlfriend, and a cruel petty criminal, all as a point of diagnosis of a social disease that had Japan slowly succumbing to lawlessness during the post-War era.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Ineko Arima, Fumio Watanabe, Tatsuya Nakadai
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A group of rank-and-file Japanese soldiers are jailed for crimes against humanity, themselves victims of a nation refusing to bear its burdens as a whole.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Kô Mishima, Torahiko Hamada, Keiko Kishi
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Through his unconscionable actions against others, a sociopath samurai builds a trail of vendettas that follow him closely.

Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Yûzô Kayama
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

An entomologist on vacation is trapped by local villagers into living with a woman whose life task is shoveling sand for them.

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara
Stars: Eiji Okada, Kyôko Kishida, Hiroko Itô
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The story takes place in feudal Japan, when any commerce with the rest of the world was strictly prohibited. An idealist suddenly appears in an isolated inn (the one that the title refers ... See full summary »

Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Komaki Kurihara, Wakako Sakai
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

In medieval Japan, a compassionate governor is sent into exile. His wife and children try to join him, but are separated, and the children grow up amid suffering and oppression.

Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi, Kyôko Kagawa


Cast overview, first billed only:
Tatsuya Nakadai ... Kaji
Michiyo Aratama ... Michiko
Kokinji Katsura Kokinji Katsura ... Sasa Nitôhei
Jun Tatara Jun Tatara ... Hino Jun'i
Michirô Minami ... Yoshida Jôtôhei
Kei Satô Kei Satô ... Shinjô Ittôhei
Kunie Tanaka ... Obara Nitôhei
Ryôhei Uchida Ryôhei Uchida ... Hashitani Gunsô
Kan Yanagiya Kan Yanagiya ... Tanoue Nitôhei
Kenjirô Uemura Kenjirô Uemura ... Bannai Jôtôhei
Kaneko Iwasaki Kaneko Iwasaki ... Tokunaga Kangofu
Mayumi Kurata Mayumi Kurata ... Obara's Wife
Taketoshi Naitô Taketoshi Naitô ... Tange Ittôhei
Hideo Kidokoro Hideo Kidokoro ... Kudô Taii
Yoshiaki Aoki Yoshiaki Aoki ... Soga Gunsô


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Japanese | Mandarin | Russian

Release Date:

February 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Human Condition II: Road to Eternity See more »

Filming Locations:

Hokkaido, Japan

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shôchiku Eiga See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Kaji: I refuse to die.
See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity
23 October 2014 | by mevmijaumauSee all my reviews

The Human Condition (Ningen no jôken) is a 9,5 hour long epic film trilogy directed by Masaki Kobayashi, based on the six volume novel by Junpei Gomikawa. The trilogy stays true to the novel's composition by being divided into six parts, meaning that each of the three installments are split in two parts, in between which are intermissions. Both parts in the first film begin with the same opening credits sequence, showing us some stoneworks portraying dramatic imagery (the similar intro opens all three films). The three movies, each long 3 hours or more, are called No Greater Love, Road to Eternity and A Soldier's Prayer.

So far, I'm two thirds into the trilogy and I find Road to Eternity to be lesser than the first film. RtE follows Kaji as a conscript in Japanese military, first concentrating on his experiences during basic training and later shifting to a battlefield. Now, RtE surpasses NGL on a technical scale; there's no sugar-coating of historical events, no Japanese actors trying to pass up as the Chinese (except in one, scarcely important scene) and no melodramatic orchestral music (instead, RtE sports a militaristic, more quiet soundtrack).

However, this entry in the trilogy reaches the point when the entire story starts to get really repetitive and you really get the feeling that you've seen Kaji humiliated and beaten up enough times to start getting tired by the film. There are a LOT of forgettable scenes of little importance which do nothing but prolong the runtime in order to provide artificial oomph. This is also true for NGL to some extent, but in the first movie I found the storyline to be way more absorbing. Most of RtE occurs in darkly lit, claustrophobic barracks and tight areas where you can't even differentiate the characters. This change of location just isn't as interesting to me as the camp in NGL, but it makes sense because Kaji's humanism is completely beaten to the ground in this movie, and the sudden set change reflects that.

Even though I think that the second movie is less captivating than the first, it still has two powerful things going for it; first, the cinematography, once again, is absolutely amazing and Kobayashi once more shows his talent in crafting widescreen, chiaroscuro shots. Second, the final 30 minutes on the battlefield are brilliantly shot, acted out, put together and manage to be brutal, tense and contemplative all in one. Obviously the actors playing the Soviet soldiers are Japanese so Kobayashi doesn't show their faces, but I think that little detail actually adds to the movie's symbolic value.

By the way, the reason why this is the shortest entry in the trilogy is probably because it was cut. The scene where Michiko strips naked for Kaji was censored by a government comitee.


I should also mention that this movie heavily inspired Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (which I think is a much better film by the way). The novel upon which FMJ is based on, The Short-Timers, was written after Kobayashi's trilogy. Here are the similarities between the two films:

1) Both films are divided into two parts. First part is basic training, the second is set on a battlefield.

2) The main characters in both films (Kaji, Joker) are recruits who oppose the brutal military conditioning, but in the same time are able to adapt to their surroundings without losing their ideals. Both Kaji and Joker have feuds with their respective drill instructors, however the DIs also respect them to a point for showing their guts.

3) Both Kaji and Joker befriend a fellow recruit (Shinjo, Cowboy). They have discussions while cleaning the toilet.

4) Both groups have a weak, slow recruit who isn't able to adapt to given orders. In RtE it's pvt. Obara (who strangely looks like pvt. Baldrick from Blackadder Goes Forth), in FMJ it's pvt. Pyle. In both films, they do something stupid which makes the DI hate them (throwing a cigarette in the water barrel in RtE, hiding a jelly doughnut in FMJ).

5) Kaji/Joker takes Obara/Pyle under his wing, but everyone else hates the weak recruit. This character is constantly humiliated in both films. In FMJ, he's forced to act like a baby, while in RtE he has to behave like a geisha (sgt. Hartman also likes to compare his men with ladies).

6) Both characters get fed up and commit suicide on a toilet seat by pointing the rifle upwards and shooting (Pyle out of insanity, Obara out of shame). The music in this scene is very similar in both Kubrick's and Kobayashi's film. Pyle's suicide isn't committed on the toilet in The Short Timers, but instead in front of the other members of the group.

7) Some training sequences and punishments are very similar, if not identical.

Here's the album with comparison images: http://imgur.com/a/XeNP5

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 9 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed