Ikiru – Movie Review (2018 FIFA World Cup™ Special Series)

Group H

russiawc2018

Info

Country: Japan
Original Title: Ikiru
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Release: 1952
Genre: Drama
IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes
Ikiru (The Criterion Collection)

Ikiru.04.png

World Cup Historic

With probably the best nickname, the Samurai Blue played their first international game on 09 May of 1917, a 0-5 loss against China and only one day later, they lost 2-15 to the Philippines

The revenge came 50 years later, on 27 September of 1967 Japan won 15-0 against the Philippines. These two results are their largest loss and largest win, respectively.

In 1950, Japan was banned from the World Cup because of their involvement in the Second World War, not that it would make a big difference since they only qualified for the first time in 1998.

Since their first participation, the Samurai Blue (I’m loving it), never was out again, Russia being their sixth consecutive tournament.

Japan_national_football_team_fans_with_rising_sun_flag
Photo by ジダネ

In the previous five, they left after the group stage in 1998, 2006 and 2014. In 2002 and 2010 the elimination came in the Round of 16, 1-0 against Turkey in 2002 and in the penalty shoot-out against Paraguay in 2006.

The current squad has a lot of quality, especially in the middle and front, with the midfielder Shinji Kagawa being the most skilled.

In this year’s edition, Japan began winning 2-1 against favorite Colombia and gave a big step towards the qualification to the knockout stage, but still, two more to go.

 

 

Prelude

Ikiru tells the tale of a man searching for a meaning in life after he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. It took me a long time to watch it for the first time because I was too lazy to watch 2 hours and 20 minutes of a movie.

We finally got to the last nation and last review of this Special Series. Doing it was a very good experience and it will be nice to finish it on a high note.

Akira Kurosawa is one, if not the most, respected Japanese directors, he influenced many of the movies we have today and inspired several adaptations of his works, including the Dollar Trilogy and the Star Wars Universe.

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Akira Kurosawa

Other than “Ikiru”, Kurosawa is responsible for movies like, “Seven Samurai”, “Rashomon”, “The Hidden Fortress”, “Throne of Blood”, and many others.

He is definitely amazing, but can’t say for sure that he’s my favorite Japanese moviemaker, because I love Masaki Kobayashi and sometimes I think I might like Kobayashi a little better.

Even preferring other movies, Ikiru is great and extremely moving, like “The Seventh Seal” it’s a clear 10.

Ikiru

Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) is the Section Chief in the Public Affairs Department, a monotonous job he’s in for thirty years.

He is a widow and has only one son, Kiichi Watanabe. Kiichi and Kiichi’s wife, Tatsu (Kumeko Urabe), live with Kanji and long for his death to get the pension.

Like most common people, Kanji lives a mechanical life, from home to work, from work to home. His family life as equally shit, his relationship with the son has decayed beyond reparation.

Ikiru.01
Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura)

Most of the time, when people live this kind of mechanical life, they don’t realize it, or when they do, they rationalize it, something along the lines of “It’s a life of security”.

Everything changed when he’s diagnosed with stomach cancer, only then his view of life starts to change, in the search for this spark of life. At first connecting with Toyo (Miki Odagiri), a young girl who used to work with him, and later, finding the meaning within.

The directing is amazing, of course. Kurosawa had directed around 13 movies before Ikiru, including the acclaimed Roshomon and I believe his experience is very important in making his movies.

Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) and a patient (Atsushi Watanabe) in the waiting room ikiru
Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) and a patient (Atsushi Watanabe) in the waiting room.

We love to think that people we admire are pure talent as if experience and effort were bad, but the truth is quite the contrary. Comparing Ikiru with a Kurosawa earlier movie, “The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail”, his improvement is clear.

I think it’s no accident that my two favorite Kurosawa’s movies are from the 1980’s, more than 30 years after Ikiru.

Takashi Shimura was 47 years-old at that time, but he looks even older, what suited the role really well. His acting is flawless and conveys an absurd amount of emotion.

The film criticizes many things, the first and most obvious is the public services, a concern much relevant to this day.

Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) at work kurosawa's ikiru
Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) at work.

The problem with the public service presented in the movie is the bureaucracy with an absurd amount of useless paperwork and the transferring of responsibilities.

We also can notice a lack of empathy for the people in need of these public services, like the women asking for a reform of a swampy area for the construction of a park with playground, the bureaucrats are dismissive.

Another point criticized is the decadence of family, in the figure of Kiichi and Tatsu. The lack of relationship with Kanji to the extent that communication is impossible.

The movie is not all about critique, but a celebration of life as well, a contemplation of life and death. Kanji needed to look death in the eyes to start doing something with his life, realizing there is more to it.

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Toyo Odagiri (Miki Odagiri)

From my point of view, the meaning of life proposed in the movie is not something predestined, but we have the responsibility of finding/giving the meaning for our own lives.

In other words, there is no meaning, but it’s a good thing because we can make it meaningful.

 

The amount of emotion this movie is capable of evoking is enormous. Of course, that happens because the film was marvelously made, with the way it was shot, edited and combining with the score.

However, I believe much of these emotions come out because we can see ourselves represented in the movie in one way or another. Is definitely a life-changing movie and a 10 Moons movie.

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