films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer

Ningen no Jôken
1961 / 190m - Japan
War, Drama
The Human Condition III: A Soldier's Prayer poster

Quite a bit better than the first two films. It's been a while since I watched those, so it's not easy to compare them directly, but I was a lot more invested in this third part. The cinematography was way more impressive, the drama worked a lot better and there seemed to be a stronger focus on the atmosphere.

Read all

Kaji, his comrades, and a group of regular people try to keep themselves out of the hands of the Soviets. Kaji is tired of fighting the war and tries to lead everybody to safety, but when they get lost in a forest they start to fight amongst themselves. They eventually find their way out, but wherever they go, war follows them.

The cinematography is really the highlight here, with some very impressive vistas and lovely black-and-white contrasts. The drama is decent but combined with the title of the film things do get a bit pompous toward the ending. At least, it was a lot easier to get through, even though the film is more than three hours long. Best of the bunch.


1964 / 183m - Japan
Kwaidan poster

The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity

Ningen no Jôken
1959 / 181m - Japan
Drama, War
The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity poster

A slight step up from the first installment. Mostly because the balance between pure drama and war cinema is just a little different here, with a bit more attention going to the battlefield. It made the film just that little easier to get through, though in the end the popularity of this film series still escapes me.

Read all

In this second film, Kaji, after trying to protect some Chinese prisoners, is forced to join the army. Though he is a model soldier, his reputation precedes him and he is given the toughest tasks of the squad. Luckily, he gets support from his wife Michiko, who pleads his case and tries to get the military off of Kaji's back.

The black and white cinematography doesn't really pop, the dramatic performances are well over the top and at 180 minutes, it's at least half a film too long. The second half is easier to get through though, which makes me somewhat hopeful for the third part, but I really don't see what all the fuss is about.


1962 / 133m - Japan
Action, Drama
Harakiri poster

The Human Condition I: No Greater Love

Ningen no Jôken
1959 / 208m - Japan
Drama, War
The Human Condition I: No Greater Love poster