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Movie Reviews,  Recommendations

Ikiru : A must watch before you die

What would a person do if he was given a limited amount of time on earth . Would you live lavishly and spend all your life savings during this time ? Or would you live modestly with the ones you love ? Or will you look for suffering in others and aid them in their cause . This is the question that is repeated throughout Ikiru .

Ikiru , when translated literally means “to live” , is a Akira Kurosawa directed film from 1952 . The film , is about bureaucrat trying to find meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer . The movie is a reflection about loneliness and the struggle to find meaningful encounters in humans . The film with its humanitarian story is a must watch in a person’s lifetime .

I realise what they say about the nobility of misfortune is true . Because misfortune teaches us the truth . Your cancer has opened your eyes to your own life . We humans are so careless . We only realise how beautiful life is when we chance upon death .

Novelist ( Yūnosuke Itō )

The film follows a binary structure , with multiple perspective and a non linear way to storytelling . The first half of the movie is about protagonist learning about his ailment and him finding the meaning of life while in the second half of the film , Kurosawa shows how the protagonist’s character was perceived by others . Ikiru is not a preachy movie but it provides a moral perspective to the audience .

Takashi Simura who plays the protagonist in the film , executes the character of Watanabe with perfection . Often through the reels of the film , you can see the actor just act with eyes and conveying his emotions perfectly well . The mannerisms especially from the head bowing to his walk , Takashi Simura has aced everything while bringing the best version of Watanabe to screen . Kurosawa’s direction is spot on except for some areas where melodramatic affect bought about is a bit too much for this century . But that isn’t due to Kurosawa’s direction or the scriptwriting , but it was mainly due to how the movies were made back then , remember this movie came out in 1952 ( nearly 60+ years ago ) . Also every existential movie even written now , finds its way to Kurosawa’s Ikuru , it is the most profound sense , genesis of modern existential movie genre .

Takashi Simura in Ikiru

The movie had me question its cult status during the first half but by the end of the film , I was completely won over . The film is celebration of life alongside death , for they cannot exist without each other . A song in the film named “Gondola Na Uta” perfectly describes this celebration of life alongside death , in its lyrics .

Life is brief, fall in love, maidens…
Before the crimson bloom fades from your lips…
Before the tides of passion cools within you…
For those of you who know no tomorrow…
Life is brief, fall in love, maidens…
Before our raven tresses begin to fade…
Before the flames in your hearts flicker and die…
For those to whom today will never return…

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