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Kobayashi's greatest work - a 10 hour epic that encompasses the human indecency of WWII Japan. Not only that, but surely the greatest Protagonist Journey To Villain tale ever told.
Tatsuya Nakadai delivers an excellent performance as our hero Kaji, a man who is reduced from a altruistic humanist into a self-serving degenerate. And although the film as a whole is crushing, there are still many great moments where Kaji is able to save someone despite all opposition. Unfortunately it is just as likely that he will do his peers harm through his arrogance as a moral superior. Although the pacing is, for obvious reasons, very slow - the dialogue and interactions between the characters keep the film interesting. Be warned that this war film has little action!
(From the Criterion release) The picture is sharp and the audio is crisp - the film is beautifully contrasted and makes full use of Black and White film.
I had never heard of this film before I watched it, but I am absolutely thrilled that I did. I am amazed it isn't spoken about more often, given it's enormous scope of what it is to be human in a time of crisis. If you enjoy philosophical films and don't mind savoring the experience then I guarantee this will be a film you will praise and remember years on. Very recommended to those who are patient!
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