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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Only when he learned he would die did he start to live!"
Ikiru ("to live")is a Kurosawa film devoid of samurai or Toshiro Mifune. It is an oddity in his canon, neither an adaptation, nor an epic, or even a detective story. Instead, it is the simple and touching story of the last months of the life of a man, Watanabbe, public official, who decides to give a meaning to his life by transcending the obtuse and stiff mind of government bureaucracy to get a small public children's park built. As a parable for the soulless workings of modern bureaucracy, the goal is set pretty high, and Kurosawa goes even further, giving this story a lot of character, frequent humor, life and, most of all, heart. And going beyond the strengths of the direction and script, is the central performance by Takashi Shimura (later Kambei in Seven Samurai). Shimura gives his character such a transparently good heart and such great pain that every second of Watanabe's plight and struggle tugs at your heart, not in an overwhelmingly sentimental manner, but in one than feels honest and pure. If even many hardened souls will be drawn to tears, it is not for pity, but, admirably, because of envy for Watanabe's beautiful human dignity in the end, and for a film to have such power is beyond pure accomplishment, as the need to see this and, more importantly, feel it, goes beyond pure necessity...
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