Ikiru (1952)

Bad Kurosawa

Oh what a curse to be a genius! Here we have a nearly perfect film, perfect in all the ordinarily engineered respects. It is rather haunting, and if you choose to watch it you will find it memorable. But Kurosawa is not merely a maker of well engineered films, together with perhaps a hundred others. No, he is an inventor, someone who imagines new ways of dreaming. He invents vision.

So when we have a film that is merely excellent but uninventive, we are saddened.

Missing here is the deep layering, usually three deep with different movement. Missing is the explosive turn. Missing is the grand scope, connecting in self-aware fashion to powers beyond a mere human.

We do have some complex storytelling: the last third is a matter of discussion and argument among the surviving bureaucrats about what happened. But it centres on the humanity, indeed the worth a life. Small stuff for normal Kurosawa adventures.

You may want to see this if you are a casual watcher. Or if you are serious and want to see all this master’s films. But otherwise, I’ll steer you away from it. It is merely strong and compelling, not life-altering.

Posted in 2005

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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