Masaki Kobayashi

The Thick-Walled Room

The Thick-Walled Room

Even early on in his directing career, Masaki 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 by the studio for three years before being released.

Film Info

  • Japan
  • 1956
  • 110 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • Japanese

Available In

Collector's Set

Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

Kobayashi Against the System

DVD Box Set

4 Discs


The Thick-Walled Room
Ko Mishima
Torahiko Hamada
Keiko Kishi
Toshiko Kobayashi
Yamashita’s sister
Kinzo Shin
Tsutomu Shimomoto
Masaki Kobayashi
Produced by
Takeshi Ogura
Based on the writings of
B-and C-class war criminals
Kôbô Abe
Hiroshi Kusuda
Production design
Kimihiko Nakamura
Chuji Kinoshita


Eclipse Series 38: Kobayashi Against the System
Eclipse Series 38: Kobayashi Against the System

Four of the great Japanese director’s lesser-known, early films show the coming into being of a political artist.

By Michael Koresky


Tatsuya Nakadai


Tatsuya Nakadai
Tatsuya Nakadai

A dynamic, handsome star who got his start in Japanese cinema during its 1950s golden age, the Tokyo-born Tatsuya Nakadai defies easy categorization. He is convincing whether playing a mercenary lone wolf or a heartsick love interest, a hero or a villain, in a sleek suit or samurai robes, and just as comfortable blending in to an ensemble as commanding a spotlight. The stage-trained actor was discovered, while working as a shop clerk, in 1953 by director Masaki Kobayashi, who promptly cast him in a tiny role in the controversial drama The Thick-Walled Room; a year later, he was given a walk-on part in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. After a major breakthrough as a young yakuza in Kobayashi’s Black River, Nakadai was on his way to becoming one of Japan’s busiest actors; he would work several more times with both Kobayashi and Kurosawa, as well as Hideo Gosha, Kon Ichikawa, Mikio Naruse, Kihachi Okamoto, and Hiroshi Teshigahara—the cream of the nation’s crop of film artists. Nakadai, still acting into his eighties, is perhaps most often recalled for his ravaging performances in Kobayashi’s epic war drama The Human Condition (1959–61) and Kurosawa’s Ran (1985), in which he embodies unforgettably a cinematic King Lear for the ages.