In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.
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>
"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.
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