Monday, 23 May 2011
One usually tends to associate Akira Kurosawa with such staggering samurai epics as The Seven Samurai and Ran, among many others. Ikiru, despite not being archetypal in that sense, nonetheless remains as prescient, tragic, emotionally affecting and enthralling, as Kurosawa’s other masterpieces. Kenji Watanabe is a stoic and intensely lonely government bureaucrat living a drab existence; he’s been doing his job detachedly for the past 30 years, and is hopelessly fond of his son (despite it never being reciprocated). He’s woken out of this stupor upon being diagnosed with terminal illness, and his uneventful life suddenly goes berserk. Initially he starts doing things he never did in his life, like taking an announced leave from his workplace, and plunging into the hedonism of Tokyo’s nightlife. However, with only a few months left in his life, he decides to do something that will leave behind his legacy, however small, in the world. This deeply humanistic film, filled with heartbreaking pathos, remains an astounding thesis on existential crisis, societal hypocrisy and one man’s quest to find the meaning of his life. It is littered with sequences that would leave permanent imprints on ones’ mind, like the one where the inebriated Kenji breaks into a soulful song at a bar. Ikiru benefited immensely by Takashi Shimura’s devastating performance – his acting is a near-treatise on how to portray complex emotions merely through facial expressions, eyes and body language.
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Urban Drama