Cast & Crew
In 1943 Kaji, a pacifist, takes a draft-exempt job as a labor supervisor at a mine in Manchuria. His attempts to treat the miners fairly conflict with their menial status and the cruelty of their overseer, Okazaki. Kaji is aided only by mine foreman Okishima and his Chinese assistant Chen. Kaji's problems are complicated by the arrival of 600 sick and starving prisoners of war, who are housed in a nearby compound under his supervision. His well-meaning treatment of the prisoners creates enemies among both his supervisors and the laborers. When the mine's production eventually increases by 20%, Kaji plans a short vacation with his wife, but an attempted escape by the prisoners, engineered by Kaji's enemies, throws the camp into turmoil. Kao, a prisoner whose trust Kaji has hoped to gain, attacks Okazaki, and the secret police (Kempei-tai) are summoned. Kao and six other prisoners are sentenced to die, and Kaji is forced to attend the execution. After Kao is beheaded, Kaji attempts to prevent the other executions and almost incites the prisoners to revolt. He is arrested, charged with conspiracy, tortured, and released, only to be served with a conscription notice.
Released in Japan in 1959 as Ningen no joken; running time: 208 min. Originally released in the United States in December 1959 as The Human Condition; this film, part one of a trilogy entitled The Human Condition, will appear in its appropriate volume but has been included in this volume to complete coverage for the trilogy which was shown in its entirety in Los Angeles in 1970. The other parts are Road to Eternity (1961) and A Soldier's Prayer (1970), q. v.