Blu-ray Release: The Human Condition

Blu-ray Release Date: Available now
Price: Blu-ray $42.99
Studio: Criterion

The mammoth humanist drama The Human Condition by Masaki Kobayashi (Kwaidan) is one of the most staggering achievements of Japanese cinema.

Originally filmed and released in three installments of two parts each between 1959 and 1961, 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.

Criterion issued a DVD edition of the film back in 2009 which is still available.

Blu-ray Special Edition Features:

  • High-definition digital restoration
  • Archival interview with director Masaki Kobayashi, conducted by filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda
  • Interview with actor Tatsuya Nakadai
  • Appreciation of Kobayashi from 2009 featuring Shinoda

Here’s a trailer for an earlier British release of the Japanese classic.

Buy or Rent The Human Condition

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.