Masaki Kobayashi – Kono hiroi sora no dokoka ni aka Somewhere Beneath The Wide Sky (1954)

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SOMEWHERE BENEATH THE WIDE SKY (1954, aka KONO HIROI SORA NO DOKOKA NI) came near the end of Masaki Kobayashi’s formative period as a director — scripted by the sister of his mentor Keisuke Kinoshita (and scored by Kinoshita‘s brother), this drama of middle-class life in postwar Japan tells the story lower-middle-class workers in the city of Kawasaki, and their troubles and travails. Continue reading

Masaki Kobayashi – Ningen no jôken AKA The Human Condition III: A Soldier’s Prayer (1961)

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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. Continue reading

Masaki Kobayashi – Ningen no jôken AKA The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity (1959)

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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. Continue reading

Masaki Kobayashi – Ningen no joken I aka The Human Condition I (1959)

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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. Continue reading

Masaki Kobayashi – Musuko no seishun AKA Youth of the Son (1952)

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The story of a father and two teenaged sons, and the rivalry between the two siblings as they begin to discover the attraction of girls.

YOUTH OF THE SON (1952, aka MUSUKO NO SEISHUN) marked Masaki Kobayashi’s official directorial debut, telling the story of a father and two teenaged sons, and the rivalry between the two siblings as they begin to discover the attraction of girls. Although Kobayashi is credited as director, the movie was heavily influenced (and larger supervised) by Kobayashi’s longtime mentor Keisuke Kinoshita (1912-1998) and as such, it is more dominated by a sentimental tone common to Kinoshita’s films than displays of Kobayashi’s later, familiar lyrical visual style.
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Masaki Kobayashi – Magokoro AKA Sincere Heart (1953)

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A young student falls into a hopeless romantic attraction to an invalid girl whom he can only see from afar.

Description: SINCERE HEART (1953, aka MAGOKORO) was Masaki Kobayashi’s second film as a director — but as with his first, YOUTH OF THE SON, it is something of a hybrid work, influenced heavily by his longtime mentor Keisuke Kinoshita, who wrote the screenplay. The resulting film is a deeply passionate and sentimental drama about a young student (Akira Inshihama) who falls into a hopeless romantic attraction to an invalid girl (Keiko Awaji) whom he can only see from afar. Continue reading