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Ikiru: Film Club #7

IkiruThe stomach on the left belongs to the protagonist of this month’s edition of the Akira Kurosawa Online Film Club.

Yes, it is November and therefore time for the 7th edition of our very own Akira Kurosawa Online Film Club! The proceedings are the same as before — you watch the movie, you think about it, you write on the forums and in doing so offer the other participants a fascinating new way of seeing the film. You may think that your thoughts are mundane but you would be surprised in how many different ways we can approach the same film. Your mundane is my eye-opener.

Last month’s Red Beard was a monumental but intriguing challenge, and I think that we did quite well with the movie. This month, we turn our attention to Ikiru, which certainly is a film no less challenging, and which in fact in many ways treads a thematic path similar to that of Red Beard‘s.

The 1952 film was made between The Idiot and Seven Samurai, the former of which is often considered Kurosawa’s worst failure, while the latter is seen by many as his signature work. Ikiru itself, of course, is widely hailed as one of Kurosawa’s masterpieces.

If Ikiru‘s theme is similar to that of our last month’s film Red Beard, its structure meanwhile closely resembles that of High and Low, the film we had before Red Beard. Both movies are in a sense cut in two parts, although the reasons for this are different, as is the execution. Ikiru can furthermore be seen as heavily touching on the theme of subjectivity, which Kurosawa had explored two films earlier in his Golden Lion winning Rashomon, a movie we tackled last spring in the very first edition of this film club.

There are therefore many ways in which one may look at Ikiru in terms of Kurosawa’s whole oeuvre. One would, however, certainly do a disservice to oneself if one restricted one’s interpretation of the film within such a comparative framework. After all, there is plenty in Ikiru that stands perfectly well on its own. What this of course means is that there is much to discuss!

I am therefore enormously looking forward to everyone’s views on the work — comparative, interpretative, or whatever other approach you may wish to take! I know that Ikiru is the favourite of a few of our regulars.

Ikiru was remade in Japan last year as a television movie produced by TV Asahi. If someone has seen this version, it would also be fascinating to hear your reflections. There have also been rumours of director Jim Sheridan planning a Hollywood remake, but nothing has so far materialised.


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