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THE HUMAN CONDITION TRILOGY [Subtitled]
February 8 @ 1:00 pm - 11:30 pm$15
Antiwar Triple Feature:
In Masaki Kobayashi’s epic THE HUMAN CONDITION trilogy stars Tatsuya Nakadai as a pacifist initially sent with his wife to Manchuria to put into practice his theories for improving conditions at labor camps during WWII. For all his good intentions, he is drafted when the Soviet Union declares war on Japan. All on 35mm!
THE HUMAN CONDITION – NO GREATER LOVE
NINGEN NO JOKEN I
1959, Janus Films, 208 min, Japan, Dir: Masaki Kobayashi
In real life, director Masaki Kobayashi (KWAIDAN) served in the Japanese Imperial Army but continually refused promotion, remaining a private throughout the duration of WWII as a way of protest. In this first installment of what is probably Kobayashi’s most outstanding achievement as a filmmaker, Tatsuya Nakadai portrays a newlywed pacifist who is sent with his wife (Michiyo Aratama) to Manchuria to put into practice his theories for improving conditions at labor camps. But optimistic Nakadai is slowly undermined not just by his civilian superiors’ complacency but also the brutal inhumanity of the military police overseers. The opening salvo of one of the great cinematic sagas of the 20th century, a classic that stands alongside Rossellini’s OPEN CITY, Kurosawa’s IKIRU and Kazan’s ON THE WATERFRONT as a social document defining personal courage. “A richly rewarding visual and human experience in all its bleakness. … Nakadai’s performance as a man of Christ-like forbearance, who travels to the edge of human endurance in a doomed and lonely struggle against an evil society, is both moving and charismatic.” – Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com.
THE HUMAN CONDITION – THE ROAD TO ETERNITY
NINGEN NO JOKEN II
1959, Janus Films, 181 min, Japan, Dir: Masaki Kobayashi
At the end of the first installment, Tatsuya Nakadai’s attempt to work good in an evil system fails when everything the system represents conspires against him. In the second film, Nakadai is drafted and sent into a barbaric regimen of training as a punishment for his refusal to give up his humanist principles. The Soviet Union declares war on Japan, and its galvanized army floods into Manchuria. Enduring the horrors of the battlefield as well as abuse from many of his fellow soldiers for his pacifist reputation, Nakadai tries his best to stay in touch with his long-suffering wife (Michiyo Aratama). “THE HUMAN CONDITION was made at around the same time as Satyajit Ray’s APU trilogy and Luchino Visconti’s ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS, and like them it is a work of large-scale realism grounded in a thorough but undogmatic left-wing political sensibility … amazingly powerful in its emotional sweep and the depth of its historical insight.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
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.
Films in Japanese, Mandarin and Russian with English subtitles. | Special Ticket Prices: $15 General, $13 Cinematheque Members. No vouchers.