THE HUMAN CONDITION - A SOLDIER’S PRAYER
NINGEN NO JOKEN III
1961, Janus Films, 190 min, Japan, Dir: Masaki Kobayashi

As the Soviets overrun the disintegrating Japanese war machine, Tatsuya Nakadai and a comrade (Yusuke Kawazu) are overlooked. They try to make their way south, encountering a striking variety of refugees along the way. But Nakadai is eventually taken prisoner and shipped off to a Siberian P.O.W. camp. Upon arrival, he finds the most viciously unrepentant of the Japanese soldiers have been made trustees by their Soviet masters while the majority of the detainees are being systematically starved. At last, barely alive Nakadai escapes into a hellish frozen wasteland – but does ultimate salvation or oblivion await him? “Kobayashi views his characters with tremendous compassion and a grand, overall sense of historical irony. … By the unutterably tragic conclusion of Part III, in which the story of one man’s inevitable destruction seems to embody the demolition of all the 20th century’s most noble dreams, I was profoundly grateful … to have stuck with THE HUMAN CONDITION to the end.” – Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com.


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