Ikiru

Ikiru

4.6 16
Director: Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Akira Kurosawa, Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Kyoko Seki

     
 

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Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru details the existential struggle of one ordinary man in his desperate search for purpose. Upon learning he has terminal stomach cancer, a low-level government bureaucrat (Takashi Shimura) leaves his job of thirty years without a word to find meaning in the year he has left to live. He is completely alone in the world -- his wife is dead,See more details below

Overview

Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru details the existential struggle of one ordinary man in his desperate search for purpose. Upon learning he has terminal stomach cancer, a low-level government bureaucrat (Takashi Shimura) leaves his job of thirty years without a word to find meaning in the year he has left to live. He is completely alone in the world -- his wife is dead, his son is practically estranged, and his co-workers (the people with whom he has more contact than any others) are little more than strangers. Rather than face a death alone in pathos, Shimura opts to make up for lost time by going to the bar (for the first time in his life), spending every last yen in his wallet and drinking himself to death. There he meets a black-clad artist (a Mephistopheles to his Faust) who leads him on a hellish (and darkly humorous) tour of the city after dark as the two crawl through every booze-soaked juke-joint in town (Kurosawa's classical training as a painter surfaces in this sequence; many critics have noted the striking similarity of the crowded dance hall scenes to the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch, (particularly Walpurgis Night). Realizing he has missed nothing, Shimura then sets his sight on a pretty young girl from the office to divert his attention from his looming mortality. Although the girl fails to serve as a lifebuoy, she does give him the inspiration to do something meaningful -- to leave a legacy, however small, that makes the world a better place. A synopsis of Ikiru cannot serve the film justice; it simply must be seen.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jonathan Crow
This contemporary drama from Akira Kurosawa, better known for such sweeping samurai epics as The Seven Samurai (1954), is arguably his best film and the most articulate vision of his existential philosophy. The film's protagonist seems to spring directly from the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre or Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych: a tragic, pathetic figure who has so immersed himself in daily routine that he never learned to live. Only when confronted with his own imminent demise does he give his live meaning by building a playground over an open sewer in an impoverished section of town. The film is structured in a peculiar bifurcated arrangement: it begins as a straightforward plot that, halfway through, shifts into a fragmented narrative recounted in flashbacks by mourners at Watanabe's funeral. In the second half, we witness Watanabe's dogged struggle through the lenses of his baffled co-workers' own unexamined lives. Initially viewing his efforts with suspicion if not contempt, his workers fail to give Watanabe any credit for his single-handed effort to build the park. This section of Ikiru becomes compelling and ironic thanks to Kurosawa's deft depiction of Watanabe's inner state in the first half. Ikiru opens with an X-ray of Watanabe-a literal manifestation of his interior world. The rest of the section, through a tour-de-force of impressionistic and expressionistic cinematic devices, shows Watanabe's slow awakening from his quarter-century stupor to learn what it is to live. Takeshi Shimura delivers a staggering performance as Watanabe; his large pleading eyes and hangdog face burn a haunting image in the viewer's mind long after the film ends. The emotional force of Ikiru leaves the viewer feeling both transformed by Watanabe's evolution and contemplative about one's own life.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/06/2000
UPC:
0037429067437
Original Release:
1952
Rating:
NR
Source:
Homevision

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Takashi Shimura Kanji Watanabe
Nobuo Kaneko Mitsuo Watanabe
Kyoko Seki Kazue Watanabe
Miki Odagiri Toyo Odagiri
Makoto Kobori Kiighi Watanabe
Yunosuke Ito Novelist
Kasuo Abe City Assemblyman
Saito Subordinate Clerk
Sakai Assistant
Minosuke Yamada Saito
Toranosuke Ogawa Park Section Chief
Kumeko Urabe Tatsu Watanabe
Yoshie Minami Hayoshi, the Maid
Kamatari Fujiwara Ono, Office under-chief
Haruo Tanaka Sakai
Bokuzen Hidari Ohara
Minoru Chiaki Noguchi
Nobuo Nakamura Deputy Mayor
Masao Shimizu Doctor
Ko (Isao) Kimura Intern
Atsushi Watanabe Patient
Fuyuki Murakami Newspaperman
Seiji Miyaguchi Gang Boss
Daisuke Kato Gang Member
Kin Sugai Housewife
Eiko Miyoshi Housewife
Fumiko Homma Housewife
Ichiro Chiba Policeman

Technical Credits
Akira Kurosawa Director,Screenwriter
Shinobu Hashimoto Screenwriter
Fumio Hayasaka Score Composer
So Matsuyama Art Director
Shojiro Motoki Producer
Shinobu Muraki Production Designer
Yoshiro Muraki Production Designer
Asakazu Nakai Cinematographer
Hideo Oguni Screenwriter

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