dir. akira kurosawa
“Come on. Let’s go reclaim the life you’ve wasted.”
Poignant and raw, Ikiru makes you want to live. It makes you want to get up and do something–something for yourself, something for someone you love, and something for a stranger. Ikiru is humanity–a long strip of humanity wrapped around a reel, ready to transform anyone who’ll sit and consume it.
Mr. Watanabe learns that he is going to die. He’s been in a 9 to 5 daze for nearly 30 years, and it’s this revelation that shakes him awake. Like an awoken sleepwalker, he’s petrified. He doesn’t know what to do, but he knows he needs to do a lot and he doesn’t have a lot of time. With no one in his life to guide him (his son lives with him but there’s no relationship to speak of) he enlists the help of strangers, before pouring his soul into one final project he hopes will leave a lasting legacy.
“All these 30 years – what have I been doing there? I can’t remember no matter how I try. All I remember – is just being busy – and even then I was bored.”
Kurosawa’s works, like Bergman’s, are living human poems. They cut through the exposition and the shit and leave you sprawled in the lap of human nature, in all its joys and flaws. The film is told in two parts that are slammed together in the middle, and when you reach that point you feel it like a car crash. It’s sad but never sappy; it will get better each time you see it, in every decade of your life. It will make you live.
Criterion Spine #221
Available to stream via Filmstruck