(1952) Directed by
: Akira KurosawaStarring
: Takashi ShimuraPlot
tells the story of a workaholic Tokyo bureaucrat who discovers that he is terminally ill and decides to find meaning in his life.Trivia
: A remake is rumoured for 2010 starring Tom Hanks and directed by Jim Sheridan.
I've seen exactly 23 movies directed by Kurosawa and I feel Ikiru is certainly one of his best films. Apart from effectively telling a tale of a dying man, I also thought Ikiru was a pretty damning indictment of the crippling nature of bureaucracy. Throughout the movie, characters continually pass-the-buck
and transfer people across departments without actually trying to help.
Akira Kurosawa is mostly associated with the actor Toshiro Mifune who was his John Wayne (Kurosawa idolised John Ford). A name that comes up less frequently is Takashi Shimura who is the lead actor in Ikiru. Shimura actually appeared in more Kurosawa films (19) than Mifune, but is less remembered because he often played supporting characters.
Here, Shimura-san is very memorable as the lead character (surprisingly Mifune does not feature in this film). Compared to Mifune's usual feral style he is very understated. He does a lot of acting with his eyes and his body (appropriately slumped shoulders throughout).
In my opinion there are two keys scenes, both involving Shimura singing to himself. The first in a bar is the sadder of the two because he is totally depressed with his life. The latter scene is the (in)famous swing scene which is also sad, but also very poignant because
he has accepted his fate and is pleased that he has accomplished something.
In short, Ikiru is one of the all time great films. Don't just see it, experience it.How tragic that man can never realize how beautiful life is until he is face to face with death.