Sunday, 9 December 2012

Ikiru (1952) - ★★★★★

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni
Stars: Takashi Shimura, Shin'ichi Himori, Haruo Tanaka, Minoru Chiaki

I started watching this film having no idea what to expect, and left with a smile and a tear. Ikiru is undoubtedly one of the greatest movies of all time, for its story is enough to inspire someone to do something with their life. In this way it is one of the most powerful movies ever made.

It is a story about a man (Takashi Shimura) that has been working as a bureaucrat for over 30 years and has nothing to show for it. He learns he is dying of cancer and wants to live his life as much as he can, for he has less than a year to live. He is unable to talk with his family, so instead he spends time with a novelist (Haruo Tanaka) he met in a bar who shows him some of the joys in life. This, however, leaves him unfulfilled.

He then spends time with a young woman (Shin'ichi Himori) that he worked with, who was poor but full of life and energy. The joy she felt was infectious for him and she made him happy for a while, but he still felt unfulfilled. It suddenly occurs to him that he can make a difference through his job by rallying to fix a park for children, which ends up being his greatest achievement in life through bringing much joy and beauty into many lives.

Shimura's performance was nothing short of perfection. I would go as far as to say that it is one of the greatest performances of all time. The way his character developed throughout the film was so interesting, for he went from realizing that it's not what others can do for him, it's what he can do for others. That is when he found fulfillment; Nirvana even.

There were many great aspects of the film. It was absolutely joyful in parts, such as when he did many fun activities with the young woman. There were times that this film tore at my heart, solely because of the masterful acting by Shimura. In one scene he sang a song called Life Is Brief, which affected me in ways that no other movie scene ever has.

In the end, this is a film that has heart and soul in every scene. Kurosawa has put such love and emotion into Ikiru, producing what many call one of the greatest films ever made. There are a number of different lessons that can be learnt from watching this film, which is why Ikiru is a film that everyone should see.

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