The Human Condition 06/29/21

The Criterion Collection

Masaki Kobayashi’s six part adaptation of the book by Jumpei Gomikawa may be the most ambitious, most truthful film about the big-picture reality of war. Idealist Tatsuya Nakadai thinks he can avoid complicity in human evil by volunteering as a civilian to manage a work camp in occupied Manchuria, only to find that he’s expected to starve and torture the Chinese slave laborers. Resistance leads to conscription in a brutal boot camp, and deployment on the Northern front just as the Russians invade leads to an extended struggle to survive amid mounting horrors. There’s no escape: the ‘human condition’ is that barbarity is a given, a constant. It’s nine hours of suffering that can change one’s world view. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.