6.7/10
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2 user 1 critic

The Last Dance (1993)

Daibyônin (original title)
A successful Japanese movie director in his 60s becomes increasingly ill while working on his latest film. His family, friends, and doctor try to keep the secret of his terminal cancer from... See full summary »

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Rentarô Mikuni ...
Buhei Mikai
Masahiko Tsugawa ...
Dr. Ogata
Nobuko Miyamoto ...
Buhei's wife
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yoshiki Arizono
Tokie Hidari ...
Dying patient's wife
Yoshihiro Katô ...
Radiographer
Midori Kiuchi ...
Nurse
Toshizô Kudô
Mami Kumagai ...
Mit-chan
Noboru Mitani ...
Old man
Takehiro Murata ...
Doctor
Chôei Takahashi ...
Dying patient
Haruna Takase ...
Buhei's lover
Akio Tanaka ...
Film producer
Kôichi Ueda ...
Anesthetist
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Storyline

A successful Japanese movie director in his 60s becomes increasingly ill while working on his latest film. His family, friends, and doctor try to keep the secret of his terminal cancer from him, but it gradually becomes clear. Coming to terms with his own mortality is painful, and involves some major conflicts with his wife and the hospital staff. But having done so, he realizes he doesn't want to die in the hospital on a life support machine. He manages to finish his final film, and, enjoying the last days of his life as never before, he dies at home surrounded by all the people he cares about. Written by Lester Loschky <loschky@s.psych.uiuc.edu>

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Drama

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29 May 1993 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The Seriously Ill  »

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Connections

Version of Life as a House (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting but Somber Movie
19 August 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is the most somber Juzo Itami movie that I have seen.

While it does contain some humor and cute side plots, for the most part, the movie is a serious exploration of two aspects of death, one familiar to American audiences another rather uniquely Japanese.

The first (familiar) problem is the death-with-dignity issue. Should every last conceivable attempt be made to extend the life of a hopelessly terminally ill patient? Even at the expense of intensified suffering of both patient and family at the end of life?

The second (uniquely Japanese) question is whether the doctor and family members should be candid with a terminally ill patient about the true nature of his illness. Until fairly recently (like the late 1990s) both the Japanese medical community and Japanese society in general were firmly convinced that it was better to try to keep the patient hoping for recovery for several reasons, among them that sometimes the patient's own hope can be more powerful than the most advanced efforts of Western medicine in curing the patient.

The handling of these two themes is graphic and intense. The portrayal of the medical treatments is incredibly technically detailed as well. The performance of Masahiko Tsugawa as Dr. Ogata is extremely convincing and among the best work of this actor's career.

Towards, the end of the movie, the effects around the patient's out-of-body experiences are also extremely creative and technically superb, even by today's standards, much less for 1993 before the advent of digital-everything.

There is also a superb sequence of one of the key Buddhist sutras set to classical music towards the end of the movie as well.

Overall this is a good movie. However, if you are looking for a light-hearted romp along the lines of "Tampopo" this movie is not for you.


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