The film “Ikaru” by Kurosawa Akira is a great example of classic Japanese cinema. What impressed me most about the film is how the fragility of life is examined through cinematic technique. The film revolves around the story of a middle aged man dying from cancer and his search to find some meaning within his otherwise meaningless life before his death. The director excels at conveying a mood that is both sad and triumphant.
The character begins with his diagnosis of cancer and finds as he reflects on his life he has not accomplished much. He finds that most of it was wasted on pointless work coming to the realization that, "I just can't die -- I don't know what I've been living for all these years." To resolve this issue, he resigns from work and begins doing things he had never done before. He finds a real purpose, however, when he decides to take action against standing water in a children’s play area, taking the case to the higher ups and fighting for his cause. This effort was an attempt to leave behind something meaningful after his death.
In Richie’s book “The Films of Akira Kurosawa”, he states that the basis of the film is about moral dilemma a realization (Richie). He also goes on to state that these are two themes that are prevalent in Kurosawa’s work (Richie). I would tend to agree with this assessment. Kurosawa creates a very complete picture of human emotion and life cycle while playing upon these themes.
Overall, I think that “Ikaru” is a very impressive film that is still relevant today and will most likely still be relevant in the future. The film is universal to all ages, cultures, and backgrounds and teaches a valuable lesson about life and its meaning.
Richie, Donald. The Films of Akira Kurosawa. 3rd ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press,1998) Yoshimoto, Mitsushiro. Kurosawa: film Studies and Japanese Cinema.(Durham, NC: Duke University Press,2000)
Ikaru. Dir. Akira Kurosawa. Perf. Shimura. 1952. -, 1952. DVD.