Three Reasons To Watch: Human (1962)

Human is the story of four people on a fish boat, lost in the middle of nowhere after a storm. What happens next?


Just like director Kaneto Shindo’s previous effort, The Naked Island, Human is a limited-setting film. Most of the action is set on a fisherman boat, with only four characters to play with.

And yet, the filmmaker manages to take advantage of this situation, using the boat’s limited “resources” as narrative tools to establish who are the characters – the old captain is often seen behind the wheel, even when there’s nowhere to go -, what are their relationships between them – each of the two groups has its own place on the boat…

Enough elements to keep the story paced & involving, with Shindo also playing with the gorgeous B&W cinematography to reinforce the characters’ mixed feelings of despair.



As a director Kaneto Shindo has always shown deep concerns for the human condition, taking a close at the poor people, their daily difficulties and ultimately how they survive.

Right from its title, the film appears to make a (critical) portrait of humans. And once again, the director only needs a boat and four characters in despair to accomplish that. At the core of the story, there’s hunger – simple basic need! – and how it will push some people to the extreme, ready to do whatever necessary to stay alive. That’s exactly where the director is drawing the line between humanity and beastialy, between hope and unity, against, despair and selfishness. There’s maybe more here than meets the eye, after all, it’s the story of the boat “Sea God,” which is at large. Irony?


Before turning into a nightmare, the film starts with a naive-lighthearted jazz music, with people helping each other. It looks fun and innocent. And then, the storm happens.

In other words, Human offers a variety of tones, and director Shindo does an interesting job at finding ways to fully express these variations. At first, the film is little bit more dynamic, there’s jazz, it swings. But then, the film starts to get more static, to reflect the deep lack of hope of the characters. That means long takes, close-ups, beautiful B&W – to the point you can almost feel the tiredness, the long hot days, the hunger…


Because it sums up all the reasons aforementioned here!

AKA Ningen, 人間

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