Celebrated as one of Japan’s greatest filmmakers, Kobayashi Masaki’s scorching depictions of war and militarism marked him as a uniquely defiant voice in post-war Japanese cinema. A pacifist drafted into Japan’s Imperial Army, Kobayashi survived the war with his principles intact and created a body of work that was uncompromising in its critique of the nation’s military heritage. Yet his renowned political critiques were grounded in spiritual perspectives, integrating motifs and beliefs from both Buddhism and Christianity.
A Dream of Resistance is the first book in English to explore Kobayashi’s entire career, from the early films he made at Shochiku studio, to internationally-acclaimed masterpieces like The Human Condition, Harakiri, and Samurai Rebellion, and on to his final work for NHK Television. Closely examining how Kobayashi’s upbringing and intellectual history shaped the values of his work, Stephen Prince illuminates the political and religious dimensions of Kobayashi’s films, interpreting them as a prayer for peace in troubled times. Prince draws from a wealth of rare archives, including previously untranslated interviews, material that Kobayashi wrote about his films, and even the young director’s wartime diary. The result is an unprecedented portrait of this singular filmmaker.