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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

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Kanji Watanabe
... Kimura
Haruo Tanaka ... Sakai
... Noguchi
... Toyo Odagiri, employee
... Ohara
Minosuke Yamada ... Subordinate Clerk Saito
... Sub-Section Chief Ono
Makoto Kobori ... Kiichi Watanabe, Kanji's Brother
Nobuo Kaneko ... Mitsuo Watanabe, Kanji's son
Nobuo Nakamura ... Deputy Mayor
Atsushi Watanabe ... Patient
Isao Kimura ... Intern
Masao Shimizu ... Doctor
Yûnosuke Itô ... Novelist
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The truths of a lifetime bring out the beauty in a person, and move the heart like a tender poem. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 March 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ikiru  »

Filming Locations:


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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,590, 5 January 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$55,240, 28 September 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only Akira Kurosawa film between Drunken Angel (1948) (Drunken Angel) and Red Beard (1965) (Red Beard) not to feature Toshirô Mifune. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Tatsu Watanabe, Kiichi's Wife: My husband thinks all men are as debauched as he is.
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Connections

Featured in The Siskel & Ebert 500th Anniversary Special (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Too Young
(uncredited)
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

 
Complex and thought-provoking masterpiece
16 December 2004 | by See all my reviews

Ikiru is a film about life. Constantly complex and thought-provoking, although simple at the same time; it tells a story about life's limits, how we perceive life and the fact that life is short and not to be wasted. Our hero is Kanji Watanabe, the most unlikely 'hero' of all time. He works in a dreary city office, where nothing happens and it's all very meaningless. Watanabe is particularly boring, which has lead to him being nicknamed 'The Mummy' by a fellow worker. He later learns that he is dying from stomach cancer and that he only has six months to live. But Watanabe has been dead for thirty years, and now that he's learned that his life has a limit; it's time for Watanabe to escape his dreary life and finally start living. What follows is probably the most thoughtful analysis of life ever filmed.

Ikiru marks a departure for Akira Kurosawa, a man better known for his samurai films, but it's a welcome departure in my opinion. Kurosawa constantly refers to Watanabe as 'our hero' throughout the film, and at first this struck me as rather odd because, as I've mentioned, he's probably the least likely hero that Kurosawa has ever directed; but that's just it! This man is not a superhero samurai, but rather an ordinary guy that decides he doesn't want to be useless anymore. That's why he's 'our hero'. Kurosawa makes us feel for the character every moment he's on screen - we're sorry that he's wasted his life, and we're sorry that his wasted life is about to be cruelly cut short. However, despite the bleak and miserable facade that this movie gives out, there is a distinct beauty about it that shines through. The beauty emits from the way that Watanabe tries to redeem his life; because we feel for him and are with him every step of the way, it's easy to see why Watanabe acts in the way he does. Ikiru is a psychologically beautiful film.

It could be said that the fantastic first hour and a half is let down by a more politically based final third - and this is true. The movie needs it's final third in order to finish telling the story, but it really doesn't work as well as the earlier parts did. However, Kurosawa still delights us with some brilliant imagery and the shot of Watanabe on a swing is the most poetically brilliant thing that Kurosawa ever filmed. Together with the music and the rest of the film that you've seen so far; that picture that Kurosawa gives us is as moving as it is brilliant.


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