143 Min. | Drama | October 1952
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Starring: Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Shin’ichi Himori
Ikiru is a film about life. Constantly complex and thought-provoking, although simple at the same time, it tells a story about life’s limits, how we perceive life and the fact that life is short and not to be wasted. Our hero is Kanji Watanabe, the most unlikely ‘hero’ of all time. He works in a dreary city office, where nothing happens and it’s all very meaningless. Watanabe is particularly boring, which has lead to him being nicknamed ‘The Mummy’ by a fellow worker. He later learns that he is dying from stomach cancer and that he only has six months to live.
But Watanabe has been dead for thirty years, and now that he’s learned that his life has a limit, it’s time for Watanabe to escape his dreary life and finally start living. What follows is probably the most thoughtful analysis of life ever filmed. Ikiru marks a departure for Akira Kurosawa, a man better known for his samurai films, but it’s a welcome departure in my opinion. This man is not a superhero samurai, but rather an ordinary guy that decides he doesn’t want to be useless anymore. That’s why he’s ‘our hero’. Kurosawa makes us feel for the character every moment he’s on screen – we’re sorry that he’s wasted his life, and we’re sorry that his wasted life is about to be cruelly cut short.
However, despite the bleak and miserable facade that Ikiru gives out, there is a distinct beauty about it that shines through. The beauty emits from the way that Watanabe tries to redeem his life, because we feel for him and are with him every step of the way, it’s easy to see why Watanabe acts in the way he does. Ikiru is a psychologically beautiful film.
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