Ningen no jken (Human Condition III - A Soldier's Prayer) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Ningen no jken (Human Condition III - A Soldier's Prayer) Reviews

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½ May 23, 2016
An emotionally devastating conclusion to Masaki Kobayashi's majestic Human Condition Trilogy.
January 29, 2014
At the end of the second film, Kaji's battalion has been decimated by Soviet tanks and he and a tiny handful of other soldiers remain alive but unwilling to rejoin the army. Kaji leads them toward South Manchuria (where he hopes his wife Michiko is still alive and waiting) and along the way they pick up a ragtag band of other refugees. They wander aimlessly through the forest and some die of starvation. Kaji is like a man possessed and his original humanism is overwhelmed by a desire to survive and to re-join Michiko, leading him to strike first when Soviet soldiers and hostile Chinese peasants get in their way. Ultimately, they are captured and, ironically, Kaji ends up in a POW labor camp not all that different from the one he managed in the first film of the trilogy. Despite their socialist orientation, the Soviets use similar inhumane tactics, further dispiriting Kaji. Regaining his humanist impulse, he tries to stand up for his rights and those of his fellow prisoners. However, when this fails, he takes justice into his own hands and then attempts to flee to Michiko through the harsh Manchurian winter. It doesn't end well. So, as the trilogy closes (9 hours later), I find myself reeling from its bitter look at humankind. Even those of us most noble and sincerely interested in the welfare of others can be beaten down by war, by man's inhumanity to man, by the callousness of those in power to those beneath them or different from them. Failure to live up to ideals, even when few others try, can lead to discouragement, self-loathing, alienation, and death. Kaji's trials provide Kobayashi with a microcosm that stands in for larger existential issues that face us all. The human condition may be one in which it proves difficult to avoid self-defeating compromises and accompanying angst. But we've got to try.
November 27, 2013
"There is nothing more pitiful than the women of a defeated nation!" So is the tragic destiny of PFC Kaji in the final chapter of Kobayashi's Human Condition trilogy. Overwhelming and desperate.
June 26, 2013
Beautiful MOVIE!!!!!!!!!
March 20, 2013
This is a fascinating movie and i think that i am still feeling effect of the movie on my personality. I never imagined that even a movie can effect someone so much,and also there is feeling that what should be an excellent human condition ( as shown by Kaji and his wife) and what is prevailing human condition as we see around us. I have deep regards for all the crew of the movie who provided us a worth seeing and personality effecting movie. I dedicate all I have learned to the director of movie Masaki Kobayashi. I recommend all serious movie viewers to kindly must see this movie and try to learn from it.
½ December 25, 2011
This last part and the best one of this trilogy shows why Masaki Kobayashi was known as Japanese Shakespeare. It's 3 hours of ever lasting suffering and desperation of Kaji whose only motivation to stay alive is to go back home to his wife. This is a hard one to watch. There isn't a single moment in the film that seems happy or hopeful. Pure tragedy. That is why Masaki Kobayashi is the Japanese Shakespeare.
April 27, 2011
"Het feit dat socialisme beter is dan fascisme zal ons niet in leven houden."
sanjurosamurai
Super Reviewer
March 18, 2011
see review for "the human condition 1".
½ February 22, 2011
As couldn't be different, the war takes a toll for the main character and his humanistic motivation seems to waiver. The most interesting thing is to compare the development of the character over the 3 movies.
August 19, 2010
my second favorite of the trilogy. kaji cant seem to catch a break. first he was put in charge of a prisoners camp and had to watch innocent prisoners get beheaded. then he was thrown into the middle of wwII and made the best of that I suppose. Now, after sufferring through all that he gets taken prisoners by the ruskies and now he himself is a worker in a prisoner camp. i wont give away the ending but yep a lot of Kaji suffering is involved......
June 28, 2010
This is amazing. The Human Condition is one of the most amazing things I've ever had the privilege of experiencing. It's 9 1/2 hours (I should say breezy hours, the runtime flies by) of unrelenting suffering. Our hero, Kaji, goes from an idealistic businessman in part 1 to the hardened and jaded military man at the end of part 3. His journey is heartbreaking, if this is any indication of what life was actually like in 1940's Japan, then it was hellish. He is constantly beaten down by the system of brutality that he has basically no power to do anything about. He is so determined to do the right thing, but every act becomes more and more desperate. It's gut-wrenching to watch. The story is so epic, it fills the hours very well. There are almost no dull spots, which is an amazing achievement in itself. The production is amazing too, the widescreen is filled with images, being hundreds of mine workers or rumbling tanks, or whatever. See this film. You won't regret it.
½ April 22, 2010
A staggering cinematic achievement. This 3-part, 9-hour anti-war epic from Kobayashi may be a chore to finish at times, and almost unbearably melodramatic, but that is the nature of Japanese films from the post-war humanist era, and the result is rewarding.

From a purely technical and creative standpoint, there is not another film I've seen from this time period that even comes close in scope and cinematographic beauty, and that includes Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago.

As a humanist, anti-war statement, it manages to shed any remaining Imperial nationalism or stigma left over from WWII, and transcend political borders, resulting in a widely philosophical yet achingly tragic analysis of the Human Condition. The fact that it set in ravaged Manchuria and directed by an ex-Japanese soldier only intensifies its meaning.
½ February 9, 2010
Lots has been said already about this series, and better than I can say. I will add though, I thought the cinematography in this last part far outshone that of the first two, and there are some scenes (in particular I'm thinking about their starving march through the forest where the light shines through the trees) that are stunning.
February 4, 2010
A fantastic finish to the trilogy though not as strong as the first two films. The Human Condition trilogy is a must watch for anyone who consider themselves as human.
March 27, 2009
Unquestionably the greatest film ever made... to quote a famous film critiquer...

WOW, WOW, i am stunned and amazed... part III is the ending this masterpiece deserves. I can just recommend anyone to watch all three movies... What makes us human? How do we differ from animals? .. I think there hasnt been any movie yet which made me think sooo much...
September 26, 2008
I completely forgive any shortcomings that may have been inherent in "Road" because "A Soldier's Prayer" is the exclamation point that slaps the audience back to complete lucidity for this final blaze of 10-hour Odyssean glory. Told through the prism of a survival narrative, our hero Kaji experiences the horrors and hardships of the closing days of WWII as he struggles with fellow soldiers and refugees to navigate a hostile landscape of vengeful Chinese militias and Russian soldiers prowling the forests, towns and countryside of wartorn Manchuria. While none can claim that this is necessarily an uplifting movie, it is definitely one that evokes a feeling of universal struggle as one man fights against the burden of a hopeless situation in a nearly hopeless time. And while you may not agree with its message or execution, it is undeniable that this is a huge achievement in cinematic art that deserves accolades just for trying. Note: this isnt a movie to watch with friends
August 17, 2008
A fitting end to this superb trilogy. Kaji's honesty and decency throws into sharp relief all the human failings displayed by those around him. Well worth ten hours of anybody's time.
August 7, 2008
Seeing it on Thursday, August 7, 2008 and so looking forward to it.
Well...it was worth the investment of time to see this magnificent film -- all three parts, three-plus hours each. Truly memorable!
½ August 2, 2008
Just when you are convinced that it cannot get worse, it does. Not the movie, as such, but the hero's situation. This concluding part of the trilogy concerns Kaji's journey home following the decisive battle between his army unit and the Russians at the end of Part II ("Road to Eternity"). Actually, the film dates from 1961; 1970 must be the U.S. release date. Extraordinary, in its way, but also unrelievedly bleak. August 2, 2008, at the Film Forum.
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