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  • Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System (The Thick-Walled Room, I Will Buy You, Black River, The Inheritance) (Criterion Collection)
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Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System (The Thick-Walled Room, I Will Buy You, Black River, The Inheritance) (Criterion Collection)

6 customer reviews

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Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System (The Thick-Walled Room, I Will Buy You, Black River, The Inheritance) (Criterion Collection) + The Human Condition (The Criterion Collection)
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Editorial Reviews

One of the most important filmmakers to emerge from Japan's cinematic golden age, Masaki Kobayashi is best remembered today for his 1959 epic The Human Condition, but that is just one of the blistering films he made in a career dedicated to criticizing his country's rigid social and political orders. He first found his voice—rebellious, angry, engaged—in the fifties, following his life-altering experiences as a soldier in World War II; the four films collected here, made in the same period as The Human Condition, reflect Kobayashi's coming into his own as an artist. He fought to get these powerful dramas made at a studio more oriented at the time toward quiet family melodramas; they are unforgettable pictures of a postwar Japan troubled by identity crises and moral corruption on scales both intimate and institutional.

FOUR-DVD SET INCLUDES:

THE THICK-WALLED ROOM (1953

  • 110 minutes
  • Black & White
  • Monaural
  • In Japanese with English subtitles
  • 1.33:1 aspect ratio)

    Even early on in his directing career, Kobayashi didn't shy away from controversy. Among the first Japanese films to deal directly with the scars of World War II, this drama about a group of rank-and-file Japanese soldiers jailed for crimes against humanity was adapted from the diaries of real prisoners. Because of its potentially inflammatory content, the film was shelved for three years before being released.

    I WILL BUY YOU (1956

  • 112 minutes
  • Black & White
  • Monaural
  • In Japanese with English subtitles
  • 1.33:1 aspect ratio)

    Kobayashi's pitiless take on Japan's professional baseball industry is unlike any other sports film ever made. An excoriation of the inhumanity bred by a mercenary, bribery-fueled business, it follows the sharklike maneuvers of a scout dead set on signing a promising athlete to the team the Toyo Flowers.

    BLACK RIVER (1957

  • 110 minutes
  • Black & White
  • Monaural
  • In Japanese with English subtitles
  • 1.33:1 aspect ratio)

    Perhaps Kobayashi's most sordid film, Black River is an exposé of the rampant corruption on and around U.S. military bases following World War II. Kobayashi spirals out from the story of a love triangle that develops between a good-natured student, his innocent girlfriend, and a coldhearted petty criminal (The Human Condition's Tatsuya Nakadai, in his first major role) to diagnose a social disease that had Japan slowly succumbing to lawlessness, devolving into gangsterism, violence, and prostitution.

    THE INHERITANCE (1962

  • 108 minutes
  • Black & White
  • Monaural
  • In Japanese with English subtitles
  • 2.40:1 aspect ratio)

    On his deathbed, a wealthy businessman announces that his fortune is to be split equally among his three illegitimate children, whose whereabouts are unknown to his family and colleagues. A bevy of lawyers and associates then begin machinations to procure the money for themselves, enlisting the aid of impostors and blackmail. Yet all are outwitted by the cunning of the man's secretary (The Makioka Sisters' Keiko Kishi), in this entertaining condemnation of unchecked greed.


  • Product Details

    • Actors: Masaki Kobayashi, Keiko Kishi, Tatsuya Nakadai
    • Directors: Masaki Kobayashi
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: Japanese
    • Subtitles: English, Japanese
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 4
    • Rated: Unrated
    • Studio: Criterion Collection
    • DVD Release Date: April 16, 2013
    • Run Time: 440 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B00B2BYXYA
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,895 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Barrett TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 16, 2013
    Chances are if you are viewing this, you probably know who Masaki Kobayashi is. If not, then you should remedy that problem by watching one or several of his films. He was a central figure in the movement of Japanese post war cinema from American censorship to independence. His films have created controversy for years. In fact, the first film of this collection, 'The Thick-Walled Room' was not allowed to be released until several years after filming due to US occupation censorship. His films include the amazing (and 9 hour long) 'The Human Condition', starring Tatsuya Nakadai; Hara-Kiri (actually Seppuku); and Kwaidan, which was robbed for a foreign film Oscar. His films center on very Socialist themes, existentialism, and human empowerment. His films were often thought to be inflammatory and censors feared that the Japanese public would raise an outcry against the post WW2 occupation forces. (It happened anyway.)

    The first film is the one I consider the best. 'The Thick Walled Room' (1953 - released 1956) is about a group of WW2 soldiers imprisoned for war crimes. The irony is that the more serious (Class A) war criminals were released already due to negotiation with the Japanese government, but the less serious war criminals were forgotten. Kobayashi wanted the Japanese public to take notice of this oversight. The film actually takes place partially through flashbacks of the events leading to the soldiers' incarceration. We see that these soldiers were merely put into situations where there was little recourse but to follow orders and carry out inhumane actions. In fact, in one instance, the commanding officer gives the order for one of his soldiers to kill a civilian he suspects is working for the enemy (this after the man gives them food and drink in his hut).
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    12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Duke Mantee on July 4, 2013
    Verified Purchase
    Four gritty and brilliant films from one of Japan's least appreciated film directors. A great collection which includes "I Will Buy You"...maybe the best film about baseball made in the 1950s. Where most US films about the sport at that time were glossy comedies or tear jerkers, this film explores the dark side of outside influences on the sport.
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    By Brian on June 23, 2015
    Verified Purchase
    Not knowing anything about Kobayashi before buying this collection I had no expectations but what I've seen so far (the first two films) has been excellent. My interest is in post-war Japanese cinema and especially modern or urban stories so this set is perfect for me.
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    Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System (The Thick-Walled Room, I Will Buy You, Black River, The Inheritance) (Criterion Collection)
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