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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 #125 | Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Haruo Tanaka ...
Minosuke Yamada ...
Subordinate Clerk Saito
Makoto Kobori ...
Nobuo Kaneko ...
Nobuo Nakamura ...
Deputy Mayor
Atsushi Watanabe ...
Isao Kimura ...
Masao Shimizu ...
Yûnosuke Itô ...


Kanji Watanabe is a civil servant. He has worked in the same department for 30 years. His life is pretty boring and monotonous, though he once used to have passion and drive. Then one day he discovers that he has stomach cancer and has less than a year to live. After the initial depression he sets about living for the first time in over 20 years. Then he realises that his limited time left is not just for living life to the full but to leave something meaningful behind... Written by grantss

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One of the Great Films of Our Time! See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 March 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ikiru  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,590, 5 January 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$55,240, 28 September 2003
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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?


Hideo Oguni, one of the three main writers, originally envisioned Takashi Shimura's character as being a yakuza (gangster) as opposed to a government bureaucrat. 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 »


Mitsuo Watanabe, Kanji's son: That's Dad's mentality. Typical petty bureaucrat.
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Referenced in The Geisha Boy (1958) See more »


Too Young
Music by Sidney Lippman
Words by Sylvia Dee
Performed by Toni Arden
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The most moving and human film I have ever seen.
21 October 2002 | by See all my reviews

I can safely say that I have seen no finer film than Kurosawa's true masterpiece, Ikiru. The story of a dying petty bureaucrat in 1950's Japan, Ikiru is as uncompromisingly honest and beautiful a film as has ever been made on the subject of life. Kurosawa elevates a story that could have been simple melodrama to the level of masterwork with a genuine love of his characters, and with an incredible technical direction. The film's structure accentuates and deepens its many, many lessons on life, and the performances, including a heartbreakingly earnest turn by Shimura are all flawless.

In short, Ikiru is easily one of the greatest works committed to film, and no discerning film aficionado should avoid experiencing it. Had Kurosawa directed only this film, it would still be enough to include him in the pantheon of the greatest storytellers who ever lived. Fortunately for us, it is simply the pinnacle of a staggeringly amazing career. It is the absolute definition of a 10/10 film.

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