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Ikiru

Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura), a lowly, stuck, middle-aged bureaucrat, falls ill with cancer and has less than a year to live. This simple yet deeply profound event sets into motion one of the great humane films of Kurosawa’s long and storied career, made in sharp contrast to his well-known samurai work. Watanabe is routinely ignored and taken for granted, and lacks the will to action—until his cancer diagnosis, after which he comes to a series of stark realizations and grapples with what it means to live. “One of the fine things about Ikiru is that, like other great films, it is a moral document and part of its greatness lies in the various ways in which it may be interpreted. Here, as in the novels of Dostoevsky, we see layer after layer peeled away until man stands alone––though what the layers mean and what the standing man means may vary with the interpretation.”—Donald Richie. “Were [Ikiru] the only film Kurosawa ever made, his name would be rightfully engraved in film history.”—Nick Pinkerton, The Village Voice.

Genres: Melodrama

Other Films by Akira Kurosawa

Yojimbo

Set at the end of the Tokugawa era, YOJIMBO follows the rōnin Sanjuro (Toshirô Mifune) who, while wandering the countryside, happens upon a village over which two clans wage war. Sensing an opportunity, the rōnin wiles his way into the conflict with the goal of killing both sides and extorting what he can from the

Seven Samurai

Kurosawa’s humanistic masterpiece of honor and courage takes place in a small 18th-century village in the Japanese countryside, where peasants eke out a meager existence from their crops. Threatened by a rogue band of thieves intent on pillaging their food supply, the villagers are forced to hire protection: seven lone samurai, led by Kurosawa regulars

Throne of Blood

One of the most enduring cinematic “twists on Shakespeare” is Akira Kurosawa’s take on Macbeth, which relocates the play to 15th century feudal Japan. Two warriors returning from battle encounter an eerie spirit in the forest who promises them great fortune upon their return. Spurred on by the spirit’s prophecy—and the power-hungry manipulations of his

Stray Dog

Kurosawa’s neorealist, post-war tale of urban malaise follows homicide detective Murakami (Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune) during a sweltering heat wave in which he has his gun stolen on a crowded bus. Riddled with shame and guilt, Murakami sets out on an odyssey to recover the weapon, encountering a wide array of unique individuals as he

Ran

One of the late masterpieces of Japanese master Kurosawa’s long and distinguished career, Ran was inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear and the legend of daimyo (lord) Mori Motonari. Tatsuya Nakadai plays Hidetora Ichimonji, an aging warrior-lord who decides to abdicate in favor of his three sons, Taro, Jiro, and Saburo. His youngest son Saburo declares