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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Ikiru (1952)



Reviews and Comments

Akira Kurosawa's brilliant 1952 film Ikiru (which means "to live" in English) is one of filmdom's most important and moving essays on what it means to be truly alive. Takashi Shimura, who worked with Kurosawa several times in his career, turns in an inspired performance -- not once does his character seem anything less than genuine and human. He wins our sincerest sympathy effortlessly.

The final forty five minutes of the film are unusual: the primary story arc is over, and this last chapter involves other characters reflecting on the main character's actions. It's unconventional and startingly effective: watching it, I was amazed at how much the movie had made me its ally, pulling for its purpose. The final two scenes are powerful; seldom has any film flooded me with such complex emotions. This is a beautiful film. I consider it among the best ever made.