Ikiru The Criterion Collection
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One of the greatest achievements by Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai), Ikiru presents the director at his most compassionate—affirming life through an exploration of death. Takashi Shimura (Rashomon) beautifully portrays Kanji Watanabe, an aging bureaucrat with stomach cancer who is impelled to find meaning in his final days. Presented in a radically conceived two-part structure and shot with a perceptive, humanistic clarity of vision, Ikiru is a multifaceted look at what it means to be alive. BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack • Audio commentary from 2004 by Stephen Prince, author of The Warrior’s Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa • A Message from Akira Kurosawa (2000), a ninety-minute documentary produced by Kurosawa Productions and featuring interviews with Kurosawa • Documentary on Ikiru from 2003, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create, and featuring interviews with Kurosawa, script supervisor Teruyo Nogami, writer Hideo Oguni, actor Takashi Shimura, and others • Trailer • Essays by critic and travel writer Pico Iyer and critic Donald Richie
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I won't say anymore about the plot because the beauty of the movie is watching things come together. As a matter of fact, the way the director moves about in time allows us to piece the puzzle together retrospectively. The funeral is where we learn of the success and the different, often self-centered, perspectives add to the impact of the message. The ending is a reminder to us all that we can choose whether or not we, too, want to make a difference. However, just saying so doesn't count.
The director, Akira Kurosawa, has created another masterpiece of the human spirit. The acting is very well done. Takashi Shimura seemed to me, at times, to be too detached from his role. However, I came to realize that he was acting the role of a man who was too detached from life itself.
This is a film worth seeing. Unlike "It's a Wonderful Life" we don't come away feeling that life's a celebration. Instead, we come away realizing that life's a responsibility. Amen.
The protagonist of this film, Mr. Wantanabe is the hero. He stood up against irresponsible bureaucrats, his own family (who were indifferent to anything he had to say), and even the equivalent to the "mob" to get the wasteland reclaimed so that a safe place could be created for children to play.
He used what time he had left to make the last moments of his life greater than the last 30 years, and transformed those around him as a result once he found his own purpose. It is a beautiful movie, and while Americans tend to harp on how great Citizen Kane and Gone With the Wind are, they should see this and then get back to us. To me this ia greater film than both of those.