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Ikiru (1952)

If I were asked by someone who was dying what movie I would think would be the best last movie to see in their life (besides their favorite movie), I would say Akira Kurosawa’s “Ikiru”. The director made a plethora of masterpieces (“Seven Samurai”, “Rashomon”, “Yojimbo”, “Ran”), so to pick a favorite is really by opinion. That being said, my favorite is his uncanny masterwork “Ikiru”, which translates into “To live”.

It opens up with the announcement of the protagonist, Watanabe, being stricken with stomach cancer. The rest of the movie is about how he deals with his final days on earth. How he does, and what happens, I don’t want to spoil. I really don’t. What I will say is that this is one of the rare movies to be both philosophical and spiritual at the same time.

Ok, I will do what I can to persuade you to see this film. Yes, it is in black and white, but who cares? Movies are more than colors. Could you imagine “Casablanca”, “Citizen Kane”, or “It’s a Wonderful Life” in color? Well, Ted Turner did, and that was not a fun time for movies.

Also, I am aware foreign movies are, well, not in English. Sure, you can switch the DVD setting to English dubbing (if it allows it), but then you have the actors moving their mouths out of sync to what you hear. My solution: just read the words. It is not that hard.

Parents, while I doubt a child would want to see this film (sadly), a teenager mature enough would be ok. There is a scene of a woman dancing in a suggestive way, and some swearing (including the F bomb), but nothing too bad at all.

Looking for movies is like fishing: you won’t discover something new if you are fishing in the shallows. It is well worth it. You discover movies like “Ikiru”, and you realize movies are more than just sights and sounds: they penetrate to your soul with emotions, ecstasies, fantasies, and ideas. That is what “Ikiru” will do for you. It is a life changing film, folks.

Overall: 5 Stars *****

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