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Filtering by Tag: Ikiru (To Live)

"Now Listen to Me..."

Just some thoughts on current happenings:

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Capturing a Golden Moment #14: Ikiru

In this series I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.


Ikiru (1952)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Scene: "The Finale"


*Note: My approach to describing the following scene will be different than the preceding entries in this series. The dramatic effect of Ikiru's final moments is not as self contained as its predecessors and is cumulative in nature, relying on the narrative strength of what has come beforehand. I would therefore request that these moments be respectfully observed by those who have seen the entire film. Otherwise it would be like reading only the last pages of a literary masterpiece. Please pardon my reverential attitude here, but I consider this film to be cinema's finest, most spiritually profound work of art.  

This final scene concerns one of the office workers. After expressing silent outrage at his bureaucratic colleagues returning to their former ineffectiveness, he's stared down by his superior and reluctantly retreats behind a mountain of paperwork. At the end of the day he looks down from an overpass at some children joyfully using the playground his deceased former colleague Watanabe, with great effort and perseverance, created. (Previously celebrating his glorious accomplishment, Watanabe sat on the playground's swing in the night's freezing cold, singing a most poignant song). Two children abandon the swing, the seats of which are empty; the shot is held there as they gently sway back and forth. The song's tune is heard on the soundtrack. Is this meant as a symbolic invitation for us to fill the empty spaces and become "creators" ourselves? The figure stares down at the park before finally walking off. As he walks across the bridge from above, notice how the filmmakers ingeniously capture him if only for a few seconds, in a pyramid shape of the swing structure, the chains of which can still be seen swaying. And as he walks out of this framing device and then leaves the scene completely, is he representative of time that passes regardless of how we choose to live our lives, suggesting the fleeting nature of man’s opportunity to give unto others? Watanabe is gone but his creation, his spiritual inspiration, endures. Its meaning however, and perhaps more importantly what will be done about it, is left up to us.




Ikiru is available on Blu-ray (North America Region A locked) here:

Ikiru (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Starring Takashi Shimura

It is also available for U.S. download here:

Starring Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Kyoko Seki, Makoto Kobori, Kumeko Urabe

Top Ten: World Cinema Treasures

Films on this, the highest level of artistic merit, must contain an extraordinary breadth of insight into the human experience, one that transcends any geographical, cultural or genre limitation. Furthermore, their story's development must appear spontaneous and natural, without apparent signs of its author's manipulation. At the same time, the narrative groundwork must be subtly laid so that an audience can strongly identify with, and feel for the characters' outcome. If the work is abstract in nature, it must enthrall and ignite the viewer's imagination. These motion pictures must not only be supremely crafted but reach deep into the bone marrow of our existence to create an everlasting spiritual experience, not unlike that produced by any of the other arts' greatest achievements.

They are listed in alphabetical order:

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