Kanji Watanabe is a longtime bureaucrat in a city office who, along with the rest of the office, spends his entire working life doing nothing. He learns he is dying of cancer and wants to find some meaning in his life. He finds himself unable to talk with his family, and spends a night on the town with a novelist, but that leaves him unfulfilled. He next spends time with a young woman from his office, but finally decides he can make a difference through his job... After Watanabe's death, co-workers at his funeral discuss his behavior over the last several months and debate why he suddenly became assertive in his job to promote a city park, and resolve to be more like Watanabe. Written by
Mike Rosenlof <email@example.com>
When Takashi Shimura rehearsed his singing of "Song of the Gondola," director Akira Kurosawa instructed him to "sing the song as if you are a stranger in a world where nobody believes you exist." See more »
In the last scene with Toyo (in the restaurant with the birthday party going on), the position of the bell on the mechanical bunny changes, even though neither actor has touched the bunny. See more »
Drinking this expensive sake is like paying myself back with poison for the way I lived all these years.
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Not just a film, but an incredible learning experience
A quiet, but very moving film. Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) is a clerk who has been living a dull, unsatisfying life working in the government's offices who is diagnosed with cancer and is given one year to live. He tries to enjoy his days by picking up a former co-worker (Miki Odagiri) and taking her out on the town. She finally convinces him that this is not the way to spend the rest of his life. He soon realizes that he has a strong desire to do something with his life so that it will not have been a total waste. Therefore he begins to work in cooperation with the people... accomplishing something that nobody in the office had the nerve to do before.
I consider Ikiru to be Kurosawa's first truly excellent film. The story moves along very low-key and we gradually realize the power and emotion that is in this great film. Roger Ebert said of Ikiru that it is one of the few films that can actually change the way you look at life after watching it.
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