O.K., we know it’s hard to, shall we say, motivate to settle in with a nine-and-a-half-hour Japanese movie. But we advise you to give the beautiful, powerful epic The Human Condition (currently available on DVD) a chance. You’ll be happy that you did.
This antiwar saga, directed by Masaki Kobayashi and adapted from a six-volume novel by Junpei Gomikawa, was made between 1959 and 1961, and is helpfully divided up into three separate films, through which we follow one good man (the handsome Tatsuya Nakadai) as he faces innumerable trials in World War II–era Japan. This sprawling film has a touch of everything—love, war, heroism—and is gorgeous to look at (thanks to another successful high-definition digital transfer from the good people at Criterion). You might be surprised by how profoundly moved you are by hour nine, and you might even start to see critic David Shipman’s point when he called The Human Condition “unequivocally the greatest film ever made.”
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