Ikiru, 1952, Akira Kurosawa

Some say that AK got the inspiration to make this move from Leo Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” but I don’t see much similarity between the protagonists.

Kanji Watanabe (played admirably by Takashi Shimura) is a typical Govt. bureaucrat who has not taken a single day of leave for 30 years. He works methodically and is a strict section head. The movie is set in the period just after the 2nd World War when Japan was trying to recover from the after effects. Everything is bureaucratic especially in government circles and the movie begins with a group of working class women complaining of a mosquito problem created by a small pool in the area.  The complaint remains unattended as various departments pass the hot potato along.

Kanji Watanabe is diagnosed with stomach cancer but the doctor does not tell him. The hospital scene where a fellow patient describes the disease to Watanabe and the fearful expressions on Watanabe face is admirably shot.  Suddenly Watanabe realizes how he has wasted his life on others especially his son who is only after Watanabe’s retirement benefits. He decides to enjoy his life and suddenly goes on a hiatus from office and home. Watanabe meets a person in a bar who is a novelist and when the novelist says that “It’s our human duty to enjoy life” they both go out and indulge in making merry including visits to bordellos.  Fully drunk he sings his old favorite song. “Life is short, fall in love, maidens….” With the pianist in the rear and people dancing and sad expressions of the novelist and Watanabe, I consider this one of the most moving scenes I have ever come across in world cinema. However the merry making does not fulfill Watanabe’s inner desire of doing something concrete and then he meets his young office girl who has just resigned and waiting for Watanabe’s approval. Watanabe agree to approve provided she goes out with him.  They both go out on restaurants hopping and Watanabe seeing that she has a torn stocking buys her a new pair. They go a hotel where there is a birthday party going on and the guests are singing “happy birthday to you” in the background with close ups of Watanabe.  Then Watanabe realizes what he should do. He resumes duty and calls for the file of women’s complaint.  He drives various departments, in the process becoming a hated figure to the deputy mayor but he doesn’t care. He exclaims “I can’t afford to hate people”.

Watanabe dies after converting local area into a children’s park.  At around 01:32:00 the movie could have ended, but it continues with the funeral scene of Watanabe where people in various departments including Deputy Mayor discuss and argues whether Watanabe deserves credit to what he has done.  After several rounds of arguments, visit by the local ladies and the police man who sees Watanabe last singing his favorite song in snowing  park conclude that despite suffering from cancer, Watanabe did a selfless act and it should be a moral lesson to all of them.

Top class acting by Takashi Shimura.

85 points

Whisky comparison- Yoichi 25 yo, 62%, OB for LMdW

Author: Krishna Nukala

I, Krishna Nukala (b 1955) by virtue of place of birth (which incidence has been beyond my control) am an Indian national. Nobody who is born in this world has chosen to be born in a particular country. That is why I hate governments, borders and nationalities. People laugh at me when I vote for the idea of “one government” on earth where there are no differences between people due to colour of their skin, ethnicity or religion and movement of people, trade and economic resources is free. Sounds utopian? May be. At least I don’t have to queue for US, UK or Schengen Visas!! As you have rightly guessed, I am a radical humanist, which means I abhor all religions and the concept of god (notice “g” in lower case). I am also an extreme free thinker but uphold the view that the virtue of life is the golden mean between two extremities. Well, enough of self bragging. After tasting a Lagavulin in Surrey, UK in 1998 and meeting Mike Nicholson at the distillery my life changed forever. Just around that time I also met (through internet) a guy called Johannes van den Heuval. Johannes got himself initiated into Single Malts in 1995 and was so deeply affected by its charm and mysticism that he set out in pursuit of QAVP (Questio Aqua Vitae Perfectum). In the process he brought together about three dozen malt maniacs across the globe to revel in the spirit and share their experiences. Result is that two of the most popular websites on whisky were born. www.maltmadness.com and www.maltmaniacs.net. So far I have tasted more than 2000 single malts and due to my current “no work” status going easy on malts. Besides exalting in malts I also enjoy travelling, listening to music, good food (only meats please) and watching movies. I have always been a serious movie buff since childhood and being good at English, Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, & Tamil watched movies in all these languages. Since I have plenty of time now and nothing else to do Johannes asked me to join him in writing some reviews on world cinema. It is an honor for me to work with Johannes, despite knowing what a tough task master he is. Hope you enjoy the content and I don’t mind you hurl the rotten stuff on me, if you have not done that already!! Krishna

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