Masaki Kobayashi (小林 正樹, Kobayashi Masaki, February 14, 1916 – October 4, 1996) was a Japanese film director, best known for the epic trilogy The Human Condition (1959–1961), the samurai films Harakiri (1962) and Samurai Rebellion (1967), and Kwaidan (1964), a set of four ghost stories.
|Born||February 14, 1916|
|Died||October 4, 1996 (aged 80)|
|Occupation||Film director, producer, writer|
Kobayashi was born in Otaru, then a small port on the island of Hokkaido. He was a second cousin of the actress and director Kinuyo Tanaka. In 1933 he entered Waseda University in Tokyo where he studied East Asian art and philosophy. He embarked on a career in film in 1941 as an apprentice director at Shochiku Studios, but was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army in January 1942 and sent to Manchuria.
Kobayashi regarded himself as a pacifist and a socialist, and resisted by refusing promotion to a rank higher than private. In 1944 he was transferred to Miyakojima in the Ryuku Islands, and was taken prisoner near the end of the war. Then he spent a year in a detention camp in Okinawa. After his release, in 1946, he returned to Shochiku as assistant to the director Keisuke Kinoshita.
Kobayashi's directorial debut was in 1952 with Musuko no Seishun (My Son's Youth).
From 1959 to 1961, Kobayashi directed The Human Condition (1959–1961), a trilogy on the effects of World War II on a Japanese pacifist and socialist. The total length of the films is almost ten hours, which makes it one of the longest fiction films ever made for theatrical release.
In 1964, Kobayashi made Kwaidan (1964), his first color film, a collection of four ghost stories drawn from books by Lafcadio Hearn. Kwaidan won the Special Jury Prize at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival, and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.
- Kirkup, James (October 15, 1996). "Masaki Kobayashi: Obituary". The Independent. London.
- Wakeman, John, ed. (1988). World film directors. New York: H.W. Wilson. p. 527. ISBN 0-8242-0763-7. OCLC 778946190.
- Sharpe, Jasper (2011). Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema. Scarecrow Press. pp. 240–242. ISBN 978-0-8108-7541-8.
- "Harakiri: Kobayashi and History – From the Current – The Criterion Collection". Criterion.com. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- Bock, Audie (1985). Japanese film directors. Kodansha International. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-87011-714-5. OCLC 1015968920.
- "Festival de Cannes: Kwaidan". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
- "The 38th Academy Awards (1966) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
- Hashimoto, Shinobu (2015). Compound Cinematics: Akira Kurosawa and I. Vertical, Inc. ISBN 9781939130587.
- "Berlinale 1969: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
- Masaki Kobayashi at IMDb
- Masaki Kobayashi at the Japanese Movie Database (in Japanese)
- Masaki Kobayashi movies at The Criterion Collection