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Ikiru More at IMDbPro »

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: yangfanhong from China
29 May 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Cancer?We are all the same.Compared with eternity,a human's life is as short as a blink.

Material joy will fade.The ones you love may let you down.The meaning of life seems to be mysterious.

Kanji found his life-worth enterprise,to serve,to build,to create.The dark side of the society may overwhelm him,but never can it destroy the legacy he left.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Life is Brief

Author: Thomas Drufke
29 March 2017

Sometimes films released more than 50 years ago don't have the same impact they once did. Well, that's not the case at all for Ikiru, one of Akira Kurosawa's first universally praised hits.

Ikiru tells the story of a man out of time. A bureaucratic man who has worked the same job for decades and can't seem to find any purpose in his work or life in general. That is, until he finds out he has terminal stomach cancer. What follows is a coming of age story for a middle aged man who does his best to leave an impact on the world he will inevitably leave. With one of these types of stories, it all comes down to execution. The only way to make a film like this leave you with a particularly effective message is to have a filmmaker like Kurosawa. For the most part, I did go through the emotions the film wanted me to. It's also a story that lends itself to being more relatable the older you get. It's not easy for a 23-year-old guy like me to understand what Watanabe goes through in Ikiru, but it may be something that I relate to more as I get older.

I found this film to be especially inspiring from his co-workers perspective. No one at the office does anything of value it seems, and it's only until after Watanabe takes a leave of absence and goes on a journey of self-discovery that they feel like they need to do something as well. The film shifts from Watanabe's story to his friends & families' story about half way through. I found each part to be interesting in its own right, but watching the people he cares about look back on his life and the impact he seemed to have made was some powerful stuff. The lessons and themes in the film are important ones. Pleasure is not living. Don't always do things for others or to please others, make sure you're taken care of as well. And most importantly, life is brief, make of it as you wish.


+Kurosawa's direction (duh)

-Two separate parts feel jarring at first


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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

death exposes life and bureaucracy, showing why Kurosawa was one of the greatest

Author: Lee Eisenberg ( from Portland, Oregon, USA
2 February 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Any film buff is bound to have heard of Akira Kurosawa, and likely knows his most famous movies ("Rashomon", "Seven Samurai", etc). But there's a lesser known one that's just as good. 1952's "Ikiru" focuses on the approaching death of government bureaucrat Kanji Watanabe, and how it turns into a quest for his life's meaning. After an introduction in which the protagonist's cancer gets addressed - complete with an X ray of it - we see a sequence where several people try to bring attention to a cesspool that they want cleared, but the sheer level of bureaucracy prevents any action (and Japan is supposed to be the most well run country in the world). But probably the most important scene is at the Watanabe's wake. The attendees are supposed to praise him, but one person addresses an unpleasant topic and gets chastised by his peers. Even as these men vow to live their lives with the same dedication that the deceased did, it's clear that the bureaucracy will continue to plague their lives.

While an obvious indictment of bureaucracy, the movie also addresses the issue of life and death. Can a person truly live if his job dominates his life? Watanabe sings "Gondola no Uta", which references life's brevity. His singing expresses loss. Indeed, Watanabe doesn't have much of a relationship with his son, meaning that the children have faltered in their duty to take care of their parents. All in all, the movie offers a more cynical take on post-war Japan than we're used to. Once again, Kurosawa turned out a masterpiece. I recommend it.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Profound and universal

Author: Antonius Block from United States
22 January 2017

What if in the dreary days of middle-age, as you were cruising along in the set routine of your life, you came to understand you had six months left to live? And further, that your son and his wife looked forward to their inheritance more than they cared for you, and that your co-workers mocked you for how little you accomplished in your meaningless, bureaucratic job? Such is the fate of Kanji Watanabe, played by Takashi Shimura, in an excellent movie by Akira Kurosawa. It may sound depressing and I suppose parts of it are, but Shimura's face evokes such a depth of emotions, Kurosawa's story-telling is so brilliant, and the movie is so profound, that you can't help being gripped by it. Ikiru – To Live – what does it mean to live, what is the meaning of life, when it's so brief? Can there be meaning?

Watanabe at first 'lives it up', going out on a bender with a stranger he meets, playing pachinko, visiting dance halls, drinking, and going to a strip club. It's the reaction some have to the horrifying transience of life, and in some sense, the characters are right when they say that he has begun to live when he found out he was going to die. It's an immature, unsatisfying reaction, however. He attempts to get closer to a much younger woman from his office, played with childish spunk by Miki Odagiri, not in an attempt to seduce her, but because he admires her passion, and her decision at an early age to leave her boring job. She ever-so-subtly steers him onto the right path by saying he needs to find his own things to make, and he has the idea to use his remaining time fighting for the cause of park which has is stuck in a bureaucratic quagmire. Therein lies his redemption.

The movie is distinctly Japanese, with customs like bowing and strict hierarchy on full display, but on the other hand, it has a universal feel to it. Faust and 'Ecce Homo' are referenced. The screenplay was influenced by Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilyich". The nightclub scenes are highly Western, particularly the piano player. There is evidence of Kurosawa's artistry throughout the movie, with scenes in light and shadow that might remind you of paintings by Caravaggio. The film itself may also remind you of Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece, 'Wild Strawberries'. And of course, the theme itself connects us all at that most fundamental of levels.

The story is often told in flashbacks, and revealed gradually. It's poignant seeing Watanabe's relationship with his son over the years. It's profound that he eventually realizes he needs to do good deeds with the time remaining, and that, despite obstacles in his path, he says "I can't afford to hate people – I haven't got the time". If only we could all come to this realization! He will see the beauty in a sunset, and perhaps in the most moving scene, swing on the playground in the park he built, singing 'Gondola no Uta', whose lyrics are "life is brief; fall in love, maidens, before the crimson bloom fades from your lips." While he had sung those words despondently before, he now sings them in quiet triumph, knowing he may be the only one who ever understands his life and his truths. Perhaps it's the best any of us can hope for.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: Joshua Moore from Ireland
9 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The sadness and regret conveyed by Takashi Shimura's face alone makes this movie a must-watch. It is amazing how much is said with his eyes, and the ending made my entire family (who don't normally go for this kind of film) silent for a good minute after the credits had begun to roll.

A personal highlight of mine was the way the director brought the film full circle, with the first-person viewpoint from the start of a man being rejected turning out to be Shimura standing up for the women trying to get a park built. I instantly recalled how Shimura had acted in the beginning - the contrast between him at the start and how he had transformed and grown throughout the film was amazing to watch.


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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

human agency

Author: kofistos
30 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film puts emphasis on the human agency. After learning his deadly sickness and confronting with idea of the death, Watanabesan questions meaning of the life. At the end he achieves to break the limits that the bureaucracy (and the people who are parts of that system) imposes.

With the inspiration of his ex-colleague, he finds out that to live means to produce and to struggle. He wants to do service for the public and for that aim he struggles in an inefficient system.

For me, the best scenes in the film are dusty piles of the papers around which civil servants waste their time and a group of women who tries to convey their demands to the officials and cannot get rid of that vicious circle. Cinematographically, these scenes illustrate very well not producing but wasting. I also liked the happy birthday scene in which Watanabesan discovers meaning of the life and so is reborn.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Truly a masterpiece

Author: grantss from Sydney, Australia
29 December 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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 and directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa, this is his magnum opus. Yes, Seven Samurai, Rashomon or Yojimbo might be more popular or more critically acclaimed but this, for me, is his greatest work.

Incredibly profound and thought-provoking, examining life and living it plus death and what you leave behind. Also takes a dig at politicians and the wastefulness of the civil service.

Very engaging too: characters are well-formed and develop throughout the movie. Moreover we empathise with Watanabe and his issues, issues which are relatable.

Highly emotional towards the end too, as we see the impact he has made.

A timeless classic.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Ikiru.. and how to live when you're facing death

Author: Ricc0 from Lebanon
26 December 2016

Partly inspired by Leo Tolstoy's short novel "The Death of Ivan Ilyich", "Ikiru" (To Live) is a Japanese drama film that revolves around the life of an old bureaucrat who learns that he has few more months to live due to terminal cancer. Kanji Watanbi is not so shaken by the fact that he is going to face death as he is by the fact that he left nothing behind.. he could not even remember a moment that he truly lived. He has been long dead! Now, he looks back with regret.. his eyes are frozen, his soul is empty, and he finds himself drunk in a bar singing with a voice that is so cold. Is it too late now to start searching for a meaning?

The film shows at the beginning the protagonist sitting on a desk with piles of papers around him.. drowning in this inefficient system of bureaucracy, going by the codes and regulations without emotions, without feelings. It doesn't matter if he saved some money, or if he has been the section head for some time... he is a mummy. Yet, after being confronted by mortality, Watanabi now is determined to go on a last quest to discover his own-self and find what is truly meaningful.. this time not behind a desk but in helping, caring, loving, and being a righteous human being.

"Ikiru" sheds light on the deficiencies in the social system of Japan post WW2 (the film's events occur in the 50s), on the decay of the family life and bonds, and on the matters of life and death and the responsibilities of every human. The script is touching, deep, and warm that it truly inspires.. with "Ikiru" you are not just an observer. And for the closing shot.. well it is considered to be one of the best ever, especially when you live with Watanabi his last days, hours, and moments. Another masterpiece and my personal favorite among Kurasawa's masterworks.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

12 Angry Bureaucrats

Author: tjsdomer2 from United States
31 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ikiru, another strong work by master Akira Kurosawa (the samurai guy), is not without its weaknesses. There is some over-acting, particularly with Toyo, the young government employee with whom our protagonist Kanji Watanabe, played by Takashi Shimura, is infatuated. I also do not see a reason why the film requires the flashback narrative, but alas.

The real enjoyment of the film comes in the form of the bureaucrats who debate the merits of Watanabe's accomplishments, starting with defensive rationalization for their own failures and morphing into humanistic realization of this fact, all the while placing the viewer in their shoes. These scenes have the feeling of Sidney Lumet's version of 12 Angry Men, which was originally written around the same time and released in theaters several years later. Much like the defendant in 12 Angry Men, I got the feeling the bureaucrats have put Watanabe on trial in a way. It is worth nothing that Lumet referred to Kurosawa as "the Beethoven of movie directors." Again, the comparisons between these two films are uncanny.

While the movie is imperfect as noted, it gets 3.5 out of 4 stars.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A Simple Story, a Strong Seclusion.

Author: panag-parask from Greece
22 September 2015

I have to admit. The second I finished this movie, I thought " I liked it. But I didn't love it." So, I gave it a 7. After that, I caught myself thinking about it for the next few weeks. I thought, well, I was wrong so I came back and gave it an 8. After many months I decided to watch it again, just cause I liked it that much. The second I finished it for the second time I thought that this movie is an absolute masterpiece.

I can understand why some people don't like this movie. It's slow paced. But Kurosawa does something that quite a few directors can do. Every shot has a beginning, middle and an end. Every character just feels alive, different. Εvery action has an underlying meaning and above all, Takashi Shimura acting is superb!

I don't want to go into much detail about the movie itself. The less you know the better. It's one of this movies that does an excellent job at making you feel empathy and understand the motives behind the protagonists actions and emotions. Simply.. Beautiful!

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