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The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer (1961)

Ningen no jôken (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, History, War | 5 August 1970 (USA)
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

Writers:

Zenzô Matsuyama (screenplay), Kôichi Inagaki (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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5 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tatsuya Nakadai ... Kaji
Michiyo Aratama ... Michiko
Tamao Nakamura Tamao Nakamura ... Hinannmin no Shôjo
Yûsuke Kawazu ... Terada Nitôhei
Chishû Ryû ... Hinanmin no Chôrô
Taketoshi Naitô Taketoshi Naitô ... Tange Ittôhei
Kyôko Kishida ... Ryûko
Reiko Hitomi Reiko Hitomi ... Umeko
Keijirô Morozumi Keijirô Morozumi ... Hironaka Gôchô
Kôji Kiyomura Kôji Kiyomura ... Hikita Ittôhei
Nobuo Kaneko ... Kirihara Gôchô
Fujio Suga Fujio Suga ... Nagata Taii
Tatsuya Ishiguro ... Dôkutsu Taichô
Kazuo Kitamura Kazuo Kitamura ... Kitagô Sôchô
Toshio Takahara Toshio Takahara ... Chôsen e Iku Heichô
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Storyline

Part three of a trilogy. After the Japanese defeat to the Russians in the last episode, Kaji, the Japanese soldier and humanistic 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, who do not seem to hold to the Communist ideals in which Kaji himself had put his faith. Written by nao209@nyu.edu

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese | Mandarin | Russian

Release Date:

5 August 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ninjin Club, Shochiku See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Is the first Japanese movie in stereo. See more »

Connections

Follows The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Love is the Condition for Being Human
9 April 2010 | by jouler500-artSee all my reviews

Ningen no jôken is a masterpiece film but is also painful to watch most of the time. Nonetheless, it is a tour de force to be lauded for its direction, cinematography and acting at every turn. Most of those commenting in previous discussions mention the virulent anti-war sentiment of the film which is abundantly evident. It was interesting that much of the film is autobiographical, inspired by Kobayashi's war experiences. He too refused to be an officer when he qualified, and stayed a private throughout the war. An interesting point came up when I was watching the fourth DVD in the Criterion edition of The HumanCondition which is a series of three insightful interviews. During his comments the director Masahiro Shinoda mentioned that he thought at the time, the romantic love Kaji had for his wife, Michiko, was overly sentimental and unrealistic. He thought that it was due to the fact that Kobayashi and his peers were born of another age whose romanticism was the norm and unsullied by his generation's sobering war experience. He said that he had also consulted the internet to see the opinions of the film among contemporary young people in Japan today, and found that they too, thought the love unrealistic. He felt the love should have been more erotic and less idealized. The remarks of another commentator solidified my opinion of this issue about Kaji's love. That writer stated that the title really means more like "condition for being human." This confirmed my opinion that Kobayashi's point of the film is that what makes one human, in the best sense of the word, is love. Otherwise we devolve into some type of cruel bestiality found in the phrase 'man's inhumanity to man.' This inhumanity is evident throughout the film, whether in the sadism of the other Japanese soldiers, the cruelty of the guards to the Chinese prisoners, or in the malice of the of the Russian overseers. However, the Kaji character is set apart: he sticks to his ideals, he is humble, he displays selflessness as seen when he gives his food to another or when leading the men and puts them ahead of himself. He is a type of everyman whose being is elevated above merely satisfying physical needs and responding to base instincts. He remains an ennobled human not a saint above the fray, but his love gives him the will to live, to continue on and to even do good when surrounded by evil. Love is the condition for being human.


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