Celebrity Photo

Masaki Kobayashi

  • Highest Rated: 100% Samurai Rebellion (1967)
  • Lowest Rated: 67% Ningen no joken I (The Human Condition I) (No Greater Love) (1959)
  • Birthday: Not Available
  • Birthplace: Not Available
  • Masaki Kobayashi is considered one of the great cinematic masters of the Japanese immediate post-war era, a generation overshadowed by the towering presence of Akira Kurosawa. No one of that generation of filmmakers was affected quite as strongly by the war as Kobayashi. His most acclaimed films are unflinching explorations into the dark side of Japanese culture, the side that drove men to commit gory suicide for the name of honor and commit horrific atrocities in the name of the Emperor. Kobayashi's exacting professionalism makes his films a visually and emotionally power experience. Born in February, 1916, in Japan's northern-most island Hokkaido, Kobayashi entered prestigious Waseda University in 1933, where he studied Asian art history. Though he excelled at his studies and was mentored under renowned scholar Yaichi Aizu, Kobayashi eventually left Waseda to enter Shochiku's Ofuna studios. As the threat of war with the West grew ever present, he felt that the future was too uncertain to devote to academics; he wanted to leave something behind. Kobayashi worked as an assistant for a mere eight months before he was drafted and sent to the front in Manchuria. Opposed to the war, which he viewed as senseless, he refused to rise above the position of private. In 1944, he was transferred to the southern Ryukyu Islands, where he witnessed the war's final bloody tumult. There he was captured by the U.S. and held for a year in a detention camp in Okinawa. In the fall of 1946, Kobayashi returned to Shochiku and served for six years as an assistant director under Keisuke Kinoshita. Kinoshita's signature fascination with purity and innocence is clearly visible in Kobayashi's early works; he even wrote the script for his second feature Magokoro (1953). Kobayashi first began to develop his own voice with his 1953 Thick-Walled Room. Based on the diaries of low-ranking war criminals, the film was shockingly outspoken for its time and was ultimately shelved for three years by studio head Shiro Kido. When it finally was released in 1956, it won a Peace Culture Prize. Kobayashi switched back and forth between the Kinoshita style of domestic dramas and the darker socially minded works until he garnered international acclaim and a prestigious San Giorgio prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1960 for his Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1958), the first installment of sweeping trilogy about the war. Based on Jumpei Gomikawa's six-volume novel, the tale focuses on avowed pacifist Kaji, who is drafted into the army and forced to inflict cruelty on Chinese prisoners and his underlings, forced to lead his men into certain death and eventually captured as a war criminal by the Soviets. Though the film showcases Kobayashi's existential humanistic philosophy, first seen in Thick-Walled Room, it is a much darker and more pessimistic philosophy than that espoused by Akira Kurosawa. Instead of possibilities of enlightenment as seen in Kurosawa's Ikiru (1952) or justice as in The Bad Sleep Well (1960), the most one can hope for in Kobayashi's world is dignity while evil inevitably springs from dogma and pitilessness. Human Condition I is also significant because it launched the career of Tatsuya Nakadai. Just as many of Kurosawa's films were defined by the macho-presence of Toshio Mifune, so were Kobayashi's films brought to life by the masterful performances of Nakadai in such Kobayashi classics as Harakiri (1962), Kwaidan (1964), and Rebellion (1967). In the '60s, Kobayashi's visual style grew increasing spare and minimalistic. In his masterful Harakiri, he deftly juxtaposed the stark black of the aristocracy's kimonos with the brilliant white of the courtyard's sand, lending the film's tonal scheme a symbolic quality. With the acclaimed Kwaidan, his first color film, he pushed this emphasis on composition with his expressionistic use of color. Like many of his generation, including Kinoshita and Kurosawa, Kobayashi produced less and less films during

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No Score Yet Karami-ai (The Inheritance) Director Producer 2015
No Score Yet Inochi bô ni furô Director 2015
No Score Yet Kabe Atsuki Heya Director 2012
No Score Yet Ganbappe fura gâruzu! Fukushima ni ikiru kanojotachi no ima (Fukushima Hula Girls) Director 2012
No Score Yet Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu Actor 1994
No Score Yet Ningen no jôken (Human Condition III - A Soldier's Prayer) Director 1970
No Score Yet Nihon no seishun (Hymn to a Tired Man) Director 1968
100% Samurai Rebellion Director 1967
88% Kaidan (Kwaidan) (Ghost Stories) Screenwriter Director 1964
100% Harakiri Director 1962
No Score Yet Ningen no jôken (Human Condition II - The Road to Eternity) Director 1961
67% Ningen no joken I (The Human Condition I) (No Greater Love) Director 1959
No Score Yet Kuroi kawa (Black River) Director 1957
No Score Yet Somewhere Beneath The Wide Sky Director 1954


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