Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sight & Sound Challenge: Ikiru (1952)

Film: Ikiru (205/250) 
First Time/Rewatch: First Time

I'm really behind on my Kurosawa! I had only seen Rashomon and Seven Samurai before this, and I had this inaccurate picture of his films being larger-than-life stories with larger-than-life characters. But this simple story of a dying man surprised and moved me, and it might be my new favorite Kurosawa film.

Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) is a middle-aged man with a boring job, no passion, doing the same thing day after day. Nobody accomplishes anything, except frustrating the public by pushing their problems off on another department, and another, and another... And then one day, he learns he's dying of stomach cancer. Not "movie cancer" either, where a character seems fine until one day they're gone. The characters really describe what they're going through, we feel the agony of dying from such a disease. He assesses his life, his relationships, and must make peace with himself before the end. Shimura gives a great performance; he has such sadness in his eyes. He successfully carries this film and gives the story the emotional weight it deserves. Shimura appeared in a whopping 21 Kurosawa films, so I guess I need to see more of those!

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