Criterion Collection wrote:
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.
SYNOPSIS OF PART 2
Hal Erickson on All Movie Guide wrote:
The second of Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi’s Human Condition trilogy was titled The Road to Eternity (originally Zoku Ningen No Joken). Picking up where 1958’s No Greater Love left off, this 1961 film finds the gentle, pacifistic Kaji (Tatsuya Nakadai) being sent to basic training camp in Manchuria in the waning days of World War II. Kaji struggles bravely to stick to his non-aggressive principals, only to be beaten and tortured for his troubles.