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660 Ratings

The Human Condition

人間の條件 | Ningen no jōken

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Japan, 1959
Drama, War, History


Masaki Kobayashi’s mammoth humanist drama is one of the most staggering achievements of Japanese cinema. A raw indictment of its nation’s wartime mentality as well as a personal existential tragedy, Kobayashi’s riveting, gorgeously filmed epic is novelistic cinema at its best.

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The Human Condition Directed by Masaki Kobayashi

Awards & Festivals

Venice Film Festival

1960 | 2 wins including: Pasinetti Award

Kinema Junpo Awards

1960 | Winner: Best Actress

I prefer skewed visions [of war] like Hell in the Pacific (1968) or Joyeux Noël (2005), where the human scale is emphasized. And that’s the core of The Human Condition: our nature and responsibility to each other… For me, there are too many reasons for drawing a love letter to this movie, but probably the most important one is because I believe watching it can lead us to make better people of ourselves. At least it will make you feel like a better person for nine hours.
June 03, 2014
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Concluding as the installment began with the twilight image of Kaji instinctively heading south to return home to his beloved Michiko, Kobayashi creates a sobering allegory for a tainted national soul in the indelible image of noble determination and blind delusion.
November 11, 2009
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Ultimately, perhaps, the film suffers from its sheer magnitude, from the almost unrelieved somberness of its prevailing mood. Content, driven by the director’s uncompromising seriousness, bursts the bounds of form; eased of the burden of his personal memories, Kobayashi would attain a finer balance of the two in Harakiri and Samurai Rebellion. But The Human Condition stands as an achievement of extraordinary power and emotional resonance.
September 09, 2009
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