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Ikiru (1952)

Not Rated | | Drama | 25 March 1956 (USA)
A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.

Director:

Akira Kurosawa
Reviews

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Top Rated Movies #126 | Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Takashi Shimura ... Kanji Watanabe
Shin'ichi Himori ... Kimura
Haruo Tanaka Haruo Tanaka ... Sakai
Minoru Chiaki ... Noguchi
Miki Odagiri ... Toyo Odagiri, employee
Bokuzen Hidari ... Ohara
Minosuke Yamada Minosuke Yamada ... Subordinate Clerk Saito
Kamatari Fujiwara ... Sub-Section Chief Ono
Makoto Kobori Makoto Kobori ... Kiichi Watanabe, Kanji's Brother
Nobuo Kaneko ... Mitsuo Watanabe, Kanji's son
Nobuo Nakamura ... Deputy Mayor
Atsushi Watanabe Atsushi Watanabe ... Patient
Isao Kimura Isao Kimura ... Intern
Masao Shimizu Masao Shimizu ... Doctor
Yûnosuke Itô Yûnosuke Itô ... Novelist
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Storyline

Kanji Watanabe is a civil servant. He has worked in the same department for 30 years. His life is pretty boring and monotonous, though he once used to have passion and drive. Then one day he discovers that he has stomach cancer and has less than a year to live. After the initial depression he sets about living for the first time in over 20 years. Then he realises that his limited time left is not just for living life to the full but to leave something meaningful behind... Written by grantss

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One of the Great Films of Our Time! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

25 March 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ikiru See more »

Filming Locations:

Japan

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,590, 5 January 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$60,239, 31 December 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Toho Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Partly, the script of Ikiru was inspired by Leo Tolstoy's work "The Death of Ivan Ilyich". See more »

Goofs

In the last scene with Toyo (in the restaurant with the birthday party going on), the position of the bell on the mechanical bunny changes, even though neither actor has touched the bunny. See more »

Quotes

Kiichi Watanabe, Kanji's Brother: With a young mistress, the hormonal effect can temporarily rejuvenate an old man. Happens all the time.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Brazil (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

Come On-A My House
(1951) (uncredited)
Words and Music by William Saroyan and Ross Bagdasarian
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Complex and thought-provoking masterpiece
16 December 2004 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Ikiru is a film about life. Constantly complex and thought-provoking, although simple at the same time; it tells a story about life's limits, how we perceive life and the fact that life is short and not to be wasted. Our hero is Kanji Watanabe, the most unlikely 'hero' of all time. He works in a dreary city office, where nothing happens and it's all very meaningless. Watanabe is particularly boring, which has lead to him being nicknamed 'The Mummy' by a fellow worker. He later learns that he is dying from stomach cancer and that he only has six months to live. But Watanabe has been dead for thirty years, and now that he's learned that his life has a limit; it's time for Watanabe to escape his dreary life and finally start living. What follows is probably the most thoughtful analysis of life ever filmed.

Ikiru marks a departure for Akira Kurosawa, a man better known for his samurai films, but it's a welcome departure in my opinion. Kurosawa constantly refers to Watanabe as 'our hero' throughout the film, and at first this struck me as rather odd because, as I've mentioned, he's probably the least likely hero that Kurosawa has ever directed; but that's just it! This man is not a superhero samurai, but rather an ordinary guy that decides he doesn't want to be useless anymore. That's why he's 'our hero'. Kurosawa makes us feel for the character every moment he's on screen - we're sorry that he's wasted his life, and we're sorry that his wasted life is about to be cruelly cut short. However, despite the bleak and miserable facade that this movie gives out, there is a distinct beauty about it that shines through. The beauty emits from the way that Watanabe tries to redeem his life; because we feel for him and are with him every step of the way, it's easy to see why Watanabe acts in the way he does. Ikiru is a psychologically beautiful film.

It could be said that the fantastic first hour and a half is let down by a more politically based final third - and this is true. The movie needs it's final third in order to finish telling the story, but it really doesn't work as well as the earlier parts did. However, Kurosawa still delights us with some brilliant imagery and the shot of Watanabe on a swing is the most poetically brilliant thing that Kurosawa ever filmed. Together with the music and the rest of the film that you've seen so far; that picture that Kurosawa gives us is as moving as it is brilliant.


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