Wednesday, 16 September 2015

I've Just Seen: Ikiru (1952)

Ikiru (1952)
Director: Akira Kurosawa

My sister is studying to be a radiographer, so she was intrigued by the opening shot of this film: an image of protagonist Kanji Watanabe's cancer in his stomach. As a result she stayed to watch the film with me. I am glad she did, for this is a great film, and should be watched by everyone. Many think of Kurosawa as a director of action, but like his compatriots Ozu and Mizoguchi, his is really interested in humans struggling to create meaning in often neglectful or hostile worlds.

This is a beautiful film in every way possible. The story is moving, following a man coming to terms with his terminal cancer, and the choice to grieve or to live as much as possible. The acting is quite affecting: Takashi Shimura is great as Watanabe, often still and quiet, and yet we see the depth of his sadness. The song he sings at a nightclub is one of the most touching moments in the film, as his pain is made public for the first time. The cinematography is also wonderful; the scene on the swing is one of the most beautiful shots in cinema.

As you may be able to tell, I loved this film. It was not sentimental but rather affirms the importance of living a 'good' life, whatever that means to each one of us. The last act is a wonderful demonstration of Kurosawa's filmmaking abilities, as we see the impact of Watanabe's actions on other people. Truly wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. This movie is great in so many ways, but as is typical for Kurosawa it is in the details that it is particularly rewarding. Even secondary characters are fully rounded and the depiction of post war Japan with the clash of western and traditional culture is so detailed that it serves as a historical document. And yes, it is incredibly moving.