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
When Takashi Shimura rehearsed his singing of "Song of the Gondola," director Akira Kurosawa instructed him to "sing the song as if you are a stranger in a world where nobody believes you exist." 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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Probably one of the most difficult aspects a film like "Ikiru" has to overcome is the very rough march of time. To actually find someone these days, let's say a crowd of regular movie-goers to sit down and watch a film about an old Japanese man dying of cancer would be too much to ask.
Long held shots, hardly uplifting subject, to westerners very foreign. An array of reasons not to see it. And yet, once you actually start getting into the picture it doesn't let you go. Which is why it may be rightfully considered to be a classic.
Of all of Kurosawas film this is probably the one movie that works perfectly on an universal level. Because at its core it is about one of the most basic desires of human existence...namely to be able to look back on your life and say "It was worth it."
In its starch and unforgiving black-and-white form the movie records the time of one man's life in such a beautiful and yes, colorful way, that by the time the final moments of the film play out, it will be very hard for anybody not to be touched. A glorious moment in 20th century cinema, that will hopefully be preserved for decades to come.
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