Ningen No Jôken (1959)

The Human Condition, a Japanese saga lasting 9 hours 39 minutes, gives a sobering look at empirialism, socialism, and humanism.

It is set during the 2nd World War in Manchuria where the Japanese have set up labour camps among the Manchus. Kaji, the lead character, is young and idealistic believing that the world can be better and people will respond well if they are only treated with basic dignity. He is placed as a supervisor over a team of coal miners and is continually at odds with his fellow supervisors. As such, he makes several enemies. The epic story takes Kaji away from his wife and into the infantry where he is put into training, then battle. The story spirals into despair as the Japanese lose ground and later the war. Kaji struggles with his ideals and how they collide with the brutality surrounding him.

The film is black and white and could be accused of being a little melodramatic, but the story and struggle is superb giving the viewer a lot to mull over.

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