The Thick-Walled Room (1956)

A group of Japanese soldiers are imprisoned for their crimes during World War II.

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Cast: Kô Mishima, Torahiko Hamada, Keiko Kishi, Toshiko Kobayashi

MPAA Rating: N/A

Fun Fact: Shelved for four years due to the content in the film about the war.

I was browsing my local library again looking for interesting films to watch for this site. I started to get into more foreign films lately and have wanted to see more. I looked at the cover of The Thick-Walled Room and decided to give it a try. I was doing research about the film and found very little about it. There was very little info about it and it seemed like a forgotten film. The only way you can see it is through the Criterion Collection Eclipse series.

I’m very glad I saw this film and if you can get a copy of it check it out. It feels very real in its plot and subject matter. I can see the reasons why it was shelved for the four years. The war tore Japan apart and the country was still recovering from the aftermath of everything. At the time, it was a major risk to make a film like this. I admire Kobayashi’s taking of the film. He was known for making political statements in his films and this is one of them. Kobayashi directs the actors well and uses the script to its full potential. The film makes a statement and that was the goal.

The film is shot beautifully. It’s well paced and the editing flows enough for easy transition. When the flashback scenes happen it fits in what is going on and it isn’t choppy or gives you a out of place feeling. While some films have a hard time with flashback scenes but, this film is not one of them. The editing was essential to this film and it was pulled of masterfully.

All the actors played their parts well. You want to like these characters but, you know they did something wrong. You see the characters in their state and doing their daily routine. Some of them start to slowly break down. There is a scene in the film that a man is alone in the cell. He isn’t feeling well and he starts to crack. We get a flashback on what happened in his life and how he got to prison. I won’t spoil what happens but, you feel bad for him in a way and you don’t. Are these characters guilty for their crimes? That’s for us the viewers to decide.

Overall, The Thick-Walled Room is a rare film that should be seen by all. It has a political plot and statement but, think of the time that it was filmed. It’s shot well and the editing is what keeps the film together. The whole film flows well and if you can get your hands on a copy I suggest you watch it.

Verdict: Hit

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