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New on Video: ‘Ikiru’

Ikiru

Written by Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Shinobu Hashimoto

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Japan, 1952

Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru is the type of movie that can change a life, or at least change a person’s way of looking at life. It is an extremely moving work, standing as a superb example of the emotional and inspirational power of cinema.

Ikiru is also an exceptional vehicle for Takashi Shimura, an actor known for his astonishing range over the course of 200-plus films. In Ikiru, while Kurosawa makes great use of faces in close-up throughout, there is none more expressive than that of Shimura as the cancer-ridden Public Affairs Section Chief Kanji Watanabe. Every emotion and every thought is transparently written on his aged and weary face—it’s hard to believe the actor would embody the vigorous leader of the rag-tag samurai team two years later in Seven Samurai. Here,

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