The Human Condition The Human Condition

The Human Condition

Masaki Kobayashi

The Human Condition (Criterion DVD)


4 Discs

SRP: $79.95

Criterion Store price:$63.96

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  • Japan
  • 1959
  • 574 minutes
  • Black and White
  • 2.35:1
  • Japanese
  • Spine #480

Masaki Kobayashi’s mammoth humanist drama is one of the most staggering achievements of Japanese cinema. Originally filmed and released in three parts, the nine-and-a-half-hour The Human Condition (Ningen no joken), adapted from Junpei Gomikawa’s six-volume novel, tells of the journey of the well-intentioned yet naive Kaji (handsome Japanese superstar Tatsuya Nakadai) from labor camp supervisor to Imperial Army soldier to Soviet POW. Constantly trying to rise above a corrupt system, Kaji time and again finds his morals an impediment rather than an advantage. A raw indictment of its nation’s wartime mentality as well as a personal existential tragedy, Kobayashi’s riveting, gorgeously filmed epic is novelistic cinema at its best.


KajiTatsuya Nakadai
Michiko (Parts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6)Michiyo Aratama
Jin Tung Fu (Parts 1 and 2) Chikage Awashima
Yang Chun Lan (Parts 1 and 2)Ineko Arima
Kageyama (Parts 1 and 4)Keiji Sada
Okishima (Parts 1 and 2)So Yamamura
Chen (Parts 1 and 2)Akira Ishihama
Kao (Parts 1 and 2)Shinji Nambara
Wang Heng Li (Parts 1 and 2)Seiji Miyaguchi
Sergeant Watai (Parts 1 and 2)Toru Abe
Manager Kuroki (Parts 1 and 2)Masao Mishima
Okazaki (Parts 1 and 2)Eitaro Ozawa
Furuya (Parts 1 and 2)Koji Mitsui
Captain Kono (Parts 1 and 2)Akitake Kono
Head Office Chief (Parts 1 and 2)Nobuo Nakamura
Cho Meisan (Parts 1 and 2)Kyu Sazanka
Sasa (Part 3) Kokinji Katsura
Hino (Part 3) Jun Tatara
Yoshida (Part 3) Michio Minami
Shinjo (Part 3) Kei Sato
Obara (Part 3) Kunie Tanaka
Tange (Part 3, 5, and 6)Taketoshi Naito
Terada (Parts 4, 5, and 6)Yusuke Kawazu
Naruto (Part 4)Susumu Fujita
Onodera (Part 4)Minoru Chiaki
Officer aspirant (Part 4)Shoji Yasui
Staff officer (Part 4)Fumio Watanabe
Refugee (Part 5)Tamao Nakamura
Old man in refugee camp (Part 6)Chishu Ryu
Old woman in refugee camp (Part 6)Hideko Takamine
Tatsuko (Part 5)Kyoko Kishida
Umeko (Part 5)Reiko Hitomi
Hironaka (Part 5)Keijiro Morozumi
Hikida (Part 5)Koji Kiyomura
Kirihara (Part 5 and 6)Nobuo Kaneko
Russian officer (Part 6)Ed Keene
Chabayev (Part 6) Ronald Self


Disc Features


  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Excerpt from a rare Directors Guild of Japan video interview with director Masaki Kobayashi, conducted by filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda (Double Suicide)
  • New video interview with actor Tatsuya Nakadai
  • Video appreciation of Kobayashi and The Human Condition featuring Shinoda
  • Japanese theatrical trailers
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Philip Kemp

    New cover design by Sarah Habibi, calligraphy by Akiko Crowther

Film Essays

The Human Condition: The Prisoner

By Philip KempSeptember 09, 2009

“It’s not my fault that I’m Japanese . . . yet it’s my worst crime that I am!” The words are . . . Read more »


The Human Condition

One Scene: The Human Condition

By Emma RíosJune 03, 2014

Watch video »


Photo Galleries

Ready for His Close-up

December 07, 2012

On Five


Master Strokes

March 05, 2012

Akiko Crowther, a grand master of Japanese calligraphy, created the title treatment for our . . . Read more »


The Eighth Samurai: Tatsuya Nakadai

By Chuck StephensDecember 11, 2009

This expansive tribute to the iconic Japanese actor Tatsuya Nakadai was first published on . . . Read more »

Press Notes

Press Notes: The Human Condition

October 08, 2009

[Updated] Critics have been deploying appropriately expansive terms in discussing Masaki . . . Read more »

Film Essays

The Human Condition: The Prisoner

By Philip KempSeptember 09, 2009

“It’s not my fault that I’m Japanese . . . yet it’s my worst crime that I am!” The words are . . . Read more »

Photo Galleries