The Human Condition

The Criterion Collection

The Human Condition

Regular price $37.00

This mammoth humanist drama by Masaki Kobayashi is one of the most staggering achievements of Japanese cinema. Originally filmed and released in three installments of two parts each, the nine-and-a-half-hour The Human Condition, adapted from Junpei Gomikawa’s six-volume novel, tells of the journey of the well-intentioned yet naive Kaji—played by the Japanese superstar Tatsuya Nakadai—from labor camp supervisor to Imperial Army soldier to Soviet prisoner of war. Constantly trying to rise above a corrupt system, Kaji time and again finds his morals to be an impediment rather than an advantage. A raw indictment of Japan’s wartime mentality, as well as a personal existential tragedy, Kobayashi’s riveting, gorgeously filmed epic, is novelistic cinema at its best.


  • Japan
  • 1959
  • 575 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 2.39:1
  • Japanese
  • Spine #480


  • On the Blu-ray: High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural (Parts 1–4) and 4.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio (Parts 5 and 6) soundtracks
  • On the DVD: Restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Excerpt from a 1993 Directors Guild of Japan interview with director Masaki Kobayashi, conducted by filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda
  • Interview from 2009 with actor Tatsuya Nakadai
  • Appreciation of Kobayashi and The Human Condition from 2009 featuring Shinoda
  • Trailers
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Philip Kemp

    Cover design by Sarah Habibi, calligraphy by Akiko Crowther