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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Overall, this epic trilogy is quite a powerful experience. Some parts are too melodramatic and heavy-handed for me, but I think it's a worthy investment for cinephiles (or for anyone who appreciates seeing the futility of war and other human endeavors portrayed with bleak and bracing honesty).
This is the kind of overwrought melodrama that makes critics fall prostrate to the ground in obeisance. These movies show up at Oscar time, because we can say, "Well, I would never do that!" and feel good about ourselves. It's filled with cartoon villains. What is the version of reality that we want to tell ourselves? Sometimes we can't afford the luxury of morality. Especially when the deck is stacked ...
Kobayashi's incredible odyssey of how Nakadai struggles to rise above in his wartime positions: Too incredible (as HARA-KIRI) and heartbreaking to describe, but I loved every moment of it as well took me three whole days to watch the entire trilogy.
I can't sum this film up in 420 characters, so I won't try to, my God, words can't describe the power, the emotion, the pain, the sorrow, everything. One of the finest films ever made, possibly Kobayashi's masterpiece. 5+/5
Where to begin? One, it doesn't waste a minute of the 9 1/2 hour running time. Two, it's fucking depressing. Three, it floored me. The Human Condition remains one of the most passionate films ever made. It's raw an powerful, taking a firm stance against authoritarianism wherever it may rear it's ugly head. It's an epic on the grandest scope and an intimate human drama. A film that demands to be seen by everyone.
Humanist spirals into existential oblivion through the end of WWII Japanese Imperialism in Manchuria. All characters very fleshed out and realistic, especially lead who goes from a privileged position to one of abject survival and compromises every moral on the way while still providing inspiration to others around him. Kaji cannot save Chen (first part), Obara (second part), or Terada (third part), unfortunately.