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 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
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 »
Now I remember: I nearly drowned in a pond once when I was a child. I felt exactly the same way then. Everything's going black. I writhe and thrash around, but there's nothing to hold on to - except you.
What about your son?
Don't talk to me about him! I have no son. I'm all alone.
No, you don't understand! My son is somewhere far away. Just as my mom and pop were when I was drowning in that pond. Remembering it now, it's even more painful than it was then.
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Not just a film, but an incredible learning experience
A quiet, but very moving film. Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) is a clerk who has been living a dull, unsatisfying life working in the government's offices who is diagnosed with cancer and is given one year to live. He tries to enjoy his days by picking up a former co-worker (Miki Odagiri) and taking her out on the town. She finally convinces him that this is not the way to spend the rest of his life. He soon realizes that he has a strong desire to do something with his life so that it will not have been a total waste. Therefore he begins to work in cooperation with the people... accomplishing something that nobody in the office had the nerve to do before.
I consider Ikiru to be Kurosawa's first truly excellent film. The story moves along very low-key and we gradually realize the power and emotion that is in this great film. Roger Ebert said of Ikiru that it is one of the few films that can actually change the way you look at life after watching it.
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