Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959)

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi

Starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Michiyo Aratama, Chikage Awashima, Ineko Arima

Author

A tragic story about the injustice of war, one man’s existential journey and exploration of the failings of humanism in wartime, and a harrowing descent into madness. Thought-provoking, but a bit slow. Epic in scale, especially when considering that this long work is only part of a trilogy.

Director Masaki Kobayashi has an impressive place in Japanese film history. Nakadai is really good as Kaji, and Miyaguchi exudes the same coolness that he did in Seven Samurai. Main characters in these older Japanese classics are always crying or yelling or defiantly glaring or staring in wide-eyed disbelief. Like pro basketball coaches, they are never content. There is always some sort of intense emotional drama that carries them through every scene.

Some really great photography, even when degraded by the lower quality print I had to watch. Shots are always beautifully composed, with the wide frame creatively filled by Kobayashi and cinematographer Yoshio Miyajima. Great sets help to make things authentic and visually interesting.

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