Original Japanese poster
|Directed by||Akira Kurosawa|
|Produced by||Sōjirō Motoki|
|Written by||Shinobu Hashimoto
|Music by||Fumio Hayasaka|
|Editing by||Kōichi Iwashita|
|Running time||143 minutes|
Ikiru (生きる, "To Live") is a 1952 Japanese film co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film examines the struggles of a minor Tokyo bureaucrat and his final quest for meaning. The film is inspired by the Leo Tolstoy short story "The Death of Ivan Ilyich".1 It stars Takashi Shimura as Kanji Watanabe.
Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) is a middle-aged man who has worked in the same monotonous bureaucratic position for thirty years. His wife is dead and his son and daughter-in-law, who live with him, seem to care mainly about Watanabe's pension and their future inheritance.
After learning he has stomach cancer and less than a year to live, Watanabe attempts to come to terms with his impending death. He plans to tell his son about the cancer, but decides against it when his son does not pay attention to him. He then tries to find escape in the pleasures of Tokyo's nightlife, guided by an eccentric novelist whom he just met. In a nightclub, Watanabe requests a song from the piano player, and sings "Gondola no Uta" with great sadness. His singing greatly affects those watching him. After one night submerged in the nightlife, he realizes this is not the solution.
The following day, Watanabe encounters a young female subordinate, Toyo, who needs his signature on her resignation. He is attracted to her joyous love of life and enthusiasm and tries to spend as much time as possible with her. She eventually becomes suspicious of his intentions and grows weary of him. After convincing her to join him for the last time, he opens up and asks for the secret to her love of life. She reveals to him that her happiness comes from her new job making toys, which makes her feel like she is playing with all the children of Japan and that he should find a purpose in his own life.
Inspired by her, Watanabe realizes that it is not too late for him and that he still can do something. He then dedicates his remaining time and energy to accomplish one worthwhile achievement before his life ends. Through his tireless and persistent efforts, he is able to overcome the stagnation of bureaucracy and turn a mosquito-infested cesspool into a children's playground.
The last third of the film takes place during Watanabe's wake, as his former co-workers try to figure out what caused such a dramatic change in his behavior. His transformation from listless bureaucrat to passionate advocate puzzles them. As the co-workers drink, they slowly realize that Watanabe must have known he was dying, even when his son denies this, as he was unaware of his father's condition. They drunkenly vow to live their lives with the same dedication and passion as he did. But back at work, they lack the courage of their newfound conviction.
An iconic scene from the film is from the last few moments in Watanabe's life, as he sits on the swing at the park he built. As the snow falls, we see Watanabe gazing lovingly over the playground, at peace with himself and the world. He again starts singing "Gondola no Uta".
- Takashi Shimura as Kanji Watanabe
- Shinichi Himori as Kimura
- Haruo Tanaka as Sakai
- Minoru Chiaki as Noguchi
- Bokuzen Hidari as Ohara
- Miki Odagiri as Toyo Odagiri, employee
- Kamatari Fujiwara as Sub-Section Chief Ōno
- Nobuo Nakamura as Deputy Mayor
- Yūnosuke Itō as Novelist
Roger Ebert included it in his Great Movies reviews in 1996 saying: "Over the years I have seen Ikiru every five years or so, and each time it has moved me, and made me think. And the older I get, the less Watanabe seems like a pathetic old man, and the more he seems like every one of us."5 In his Great Movies review of Seven Samurai Ebert called it Kurosawa's greatest film.6
- Ikiru was remade as a television drama that debuted on TV Asahi on September 9, 2007, and it starred the kabuki actor Matsumoto Kōshirō IX. Set in 2007, some characters and plot lines were changed.
- "Ikiru at Rottentomatoes.com". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
- "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema – 44. Ikiru". Empire.
- Ebert, Roger (September 29, 1996). "Ikiru :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- Ebert, Roger (August 19, 2001). "The Seven Samurai :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- "4th Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2009-12-23.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Ikiru|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ikiru.|
- Ikiru at the Internet Movie Database
- Ikiru at Rotten Tomatoes
- Ikiru at allmovie
- Bohème Magazine Ikiru: The Art of Living
- Voted #14 on The Arts and Faith Top 100 Films (2010)
- Criterion Collection essay by Donald Richie
- Ikiru (Japanese) at the Japanese Movie Database