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Ikiru (1952)

Not Rated | | Drama | 25 March 1956 (USA)
A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.



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Top Rated Movies #128 | Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 5 wins. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Haruo Tanaka ...
Miki Odagiri ...
Toyo Odagiri, employee
Bokuzen Hidari ...
Minosuke Yamada ...
Subordinate Clerk Saito
Kamatari Fujiwara ...
Sub-Section Chief Ono
Makoto Kobori ...
Kiichi Watanabe, Kanji's Brother
Nobuo Kaneko ...
Mitsuo Watanabe, Kanji's son
Nobuo Nakamura ...
Deputy Mayor
Atsushi Watanabe ...
Isao Kimura ...
Masao Shimizu ...
Yûnosuke Itô ...


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 <mrosenlof@qualcomm.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One of the Great Films of Our Time!




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 March 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ikiru  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$7,590 (USA) (3 January 2003)


$55,240 (USA) (26 September 2003)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Akira Kurosawa: [weather] Rain is present during the construction site scene. The swing scene, on the other hand, is calmly accompanied by snow. 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 »


Kanji: Dying is very difficult.
See more »


Referenced in The 62nd Annual Academy Awards (1990) See more »


Come On-A My House
(1951) (uncredited)
Words and Music by William Saroyan and Ross Bagdasarian
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Kurosawa is Kafka going Kawabata...
29 August 2004 | by (amsterdam) – See all my reviews

Being one of the Founding Fathers of Cinema, Kurosawa shines to all directions. In his diverse oeuvre it is hard, if not impossible, to find a weak work.

Ikiru is the most humane film of this grand Humanist. Kurosawa's story telling skills are sublime, and he has surpassed himself with this movie.

The slow pace and ditto camera movements (except in the night with 'Mephistofeles' where all is logically much more frantic) enhances the story superbly. What a pity some of the nowadays public can't find the tranquility and maybe serenity to watch a gorgeous film like that. That part of the movie lovers will miss a brilliant film, that would have lingered in the mind forever...

47 of 63 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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