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- 143 min.
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I'm going to come out and say it: 4 years ago, age 22, I was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Without going into details, I undertook a very different journey than most to the cancer experience, I fought, with alternatives and great stubbornness, spending a lot of time exploring my darkside and making peace with myself. My dogged determination and some remarkable occurences seem to have ensured remission, but you can't beat the human condition and I have no pretenses at immortality, so whether you give me another 5 or 50 years...my only mission as such is to take life by the balls and remember this film.
Watching this film for the first time tonight presents life's exit as ultimate and inescapable, giving the viewer a choice both crystal clear and razor sharp. How would you live if passion and love were your only choices? It's that simple, that brutal. Towards the end, the pacing drops to 'utterly aching', and the sound drops away: yes, the film itself might be a little too long, but the lethargic pacing in the final reel is there for a purpose, this is where you come in, where you meditate on what death means to you. Kurosawa is respecting your intelligence, inviting you to cut out your heart for the grandest of causes. The beautifully shot sets almost breathe with that intensity. I see a great amount of what I've become in those moments where Wanatabe bows his head only to slowly rise and stare into the camera: such despondency, yet such fierce longing and humanity burning deeply in his wide open eyes. I saw the best of man in a single moment, and I almost wanted to cheer. I don't see this as a sad film - my grief has been satiated. Wanatabe does not become the angel of death that he is briefly portrayed as. That choice is open to all of us.
This work welcomes a conversation on the most human of topics in a graceful and powerful way. Every human being should watch this deeply, deeply mature film.
"I have seen Ikiru every five years or so, and the older I get, the less Watanabe seems like a pathetic old man, and the more he seems like every one of us"
Ebert review: http://tiny.cc/y8rgdj28s5
Beautiful and brilliant, a masterpiece. I didn't actually find it depressing but it really makes you think about your life and the choices you make. The more I watch Kurosawa the more that I see how brilliant he really was.
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This movie ranks #2 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
This movie ranks #9 in Arts & Faith's Top 100 Films
This movie ranks #13 in Kinema Junpo's Top 200 Japanese Films
This movie ranks #17 in IMDb's 1950s Top 50
This movie ranks #28 in iCheckMovies's Most Favorited
This movie ranks #48 in Empire's The 100 Best Films of World Cinema
This movie ranks #52 in BIFF's Asian Cinema 100
This movie ranks #95 in Tom Vick's Asian Cinema: A Field Guide
This movie ranks #102 in IMDb's Top 250
This movie ranks #119 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #129 in FOK!'s Film Top 250
This movie ranks #132 in Reddit Top 250
This movie ranks #136 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #183 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #222 in BFI's 360 Classic Feature Films Project
This movie ranks #241 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #246 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #331 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #378 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #402 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #433 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #446 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
This movie ranks #459 in Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time