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Truly a must see. Ikiru almost literally shakes its audience while showing the protagonist shaken out of his alienated, indifferent, meaningless existence and discovering something like the meaning of life. In many ways Watanabe's story is a complement, or perhaps a corrective, to George Bailey's in "It's a Wonderful Life." Both Kurosawa and Capra invoked universal themes in their works, but for my money Kurosawa presented something truly timeless. By the time we meet him, Watanabe has sacrificed and suffered, becoming, unlike Bailey, neither great nor likeable for it. Instead, he has chosen a readily rewarded, cowardly, quietude, and is destined to be foresaken and forgotten. There can be no question of a miraculous, divine, intervention; Watanabe's fate is virtually sealed by choices too numerous, small-scale, and uninteresting to be reversed. Startled by a grizly death sentence, little but his irreducible powers of self-reflection "save" him--and, through him, others--from the crushing machinations of everyday life. Whereas Bailey is welcomed in from the cold, Watanabe's redemption can but prove to be cold comfort. A beautiful, vibrant movie, told with compassion and occasionally striking humor. Nearly flawless.
I saw this film a few years ago and found it consciousness-expanding. Although in Japanese with subtitles, the storyline is universal and timeless, and deeply thought provoking. A true masterpiece that could possibly be the best film ever made. If you want to watch a film that will make you reflect on your life and its meaning, see this.
Gonna be honest here and say the film had a tough time keeping my attention. Didn't see the point of the film until the last 1/3. That is when the film REALLY grab me. Please stay with it until the end as it makes the first 2/3 of the film truly worth the struggle. Beautiful imagery that will stay with you for a long time.
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