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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:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


At the Berlin International Film Festival in 1954, Ikiru was awarded the Silver Bear. 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: Life is so short / Fall in love, dear maiden / While your lips are still red / And before you are cold, / For there will be no tomorrow.
See more »


Featured in Siskel & Ebert: Crix Pick Prez Flix (1993) See more »


Written by Al Hoffman, Mack David, and Jerry Livingston
Performed by Dinah Shore
Heard in the background immediately after Watanabe and Kimura leave the striptease show
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A cinematic tour de force
16 October 2003 | by See all my reviews

"Ikiru" is supposedly one of Steven Spielberg's favourite films, and one can see the influence it's had on him not only in the sentimentality and the ultimate "feelgood factor" (which may be a little too extreme for some viewers, although the script never condescends), but visually, especially in the virtuoso sequence in which a reprobate leads our hero, a respectable and dull civil servant, on a whirlwind tour of Tokyo's frenzied nightlife - a masterpiece of camera placement and editing. With images throughout that will stay with you for a long time, and a terrific supporting performance by Miki Odagiri as a vivacious young "office lady", "Ikiru" is still an absolute knockout more than 50 years on.

40 of 55 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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