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Ikiru Details


Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru details the existential struggle of one ordinary man in his desperate search for purpose. Upon learning he has terminal stomach cancer, a low-level government bureaucrat (Takashi Shimura) leaves his job of thirty years without a word to find meaning in the year he has left to live. He is completely alone in the world -- his wife is dead, his son is practically estranged, and his co-workers (the people with whom he has more contact than any others) are little more than strangers. Rather than face a death alone in pathos, Shimura opts to make up for lost time by going to the bar (for the first time in his life), spending every last yen in his wallet and drinking himself to death. There he meets a black-clad artist (a Mephistopheles to his Faust) who leads him on a hellish (and darkly humorous) tour of the city after dark as the two crawl through every booze-soaked juke-joint in town (Kurosawa's classical training as a painter surfaces in this sequence; many critics have noted the striking similarity of the crowded dance hall scenes to the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch, (particularly Walpurgis Night). Realizing he has missed nothing, Shimura then sets his sight on a pretty young girl from the office to divert his attention from his looming mortality. Although the girl fails to serve as a lifebuoy, she does give him the inspiration to do something meaningful -- to leave a legacy, however small, that makes the world a better place. A synopsis of Ikiru cannot serve the film justice; it simply must be seen. ~ Jeremy Beday, Rovi

  • Release date:October 9, 1952


Takashi Shimura
as Kanji Watanabe
Nobuo Kaneko
as Mitsuo Watanabe
Kyoko Seki
as Kazue Watanabe
Miki Odagiri
as Toyo Odagiri
Makoto Kobori
as Kiighi Watanabe
Yunosuke Ito
as Novelist
Kumeko Urabe
as Tatsu Watanabe
Toranosuke Ogawa
as Park Section Chief
Kamatari Fujiwara
as Ono, Office under-chief
Seiji Miyaguchi
as Gang Boss
Minosuke Yamada
as Saito
Daisuke Kato
as Gang Member
Masao Shimizu
as Doctor
Fuyuki Murakami
as Newspaperman
Eiko Miyoshi
as Housewife
Minoru Chiaki
as Noguchi
Kin Sugai
as Housewife
Fumiko Homma
as Housewife
Bokuzen Hidari
as Ohara
Haruo Tanaka
as Sakai
Ichiro Chiba
as Policeman
Yoshie Minami
as Hayoshi, the Maid
Nobuo Nakamura
as Deputy Mayor


Akira Kurosawa
Shojiro Motoki
Hideo Oguni
Akira Kurosawa
Shinobu Hashimoto
Asakazu Nakai
Fumio Hayasaka
Composer (Music Score)
Yoshiro Muraki
Production Designer
Shinobu Muraki
Production Designer
So Matsuyama
Art Director