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Ikiru (1952)


21st April 2018

It is so common that an anticipated bad experiense develops into just that, that when things turn out so much better I am forced to question my membership of the gruimpy old man brigade. And Ikiru, principally Akira Kurosawa's direction, turned out to be an unexpected joy that does just that.. Too bad that only 37 people attended this; perhaps others were guilty of judging this B&W, DVD, old, subtitled film shown on a day with great weather, by its cover. Eugene.

This film, made in 1952, is long, slow moving and black and white with subtitles. It is poignant, amusing and emotionally moving and the acting is superb. Definitely one of the best we have seen so far, it held the audience attention throughout and, if you missed it, I strongly urge you to see it.

When Mr. Wantanabe is first diagnosed with stomach cancer, he is terrified. Eventually, following his encounters in the town's night life and the unexpected attachment he forms for a girl who had worked in his office, he summons all his remaining energy to get a children's playground built and so validates his thirty boring years working for the Municipality.

The discussion after the showing attracted a group of ten or eleven people, and although there was no controversy as everyone had enjoyed the film, there was much to discuss. Among our number two people had experience of living in Japan and endorsed the view that, particularly among the older Japanese, life is as rigidly prescribed as the film portrays.

The group discussed the many scenes juxtaposing Mr. Wantanabe's situation with the modern music and life around him; the birthday party was thought to have been a very affecting example, and his new hat was significant. The lead actor was universally praised, he played this patiently persistent man, bent in pain and sorrow, rarely demonstrating any sign of emotion, but he managed to reveal every feeling through his unblinking eyes. Sonia

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