#293/ 365 – ‘Ikiru′ (1952) – 143 mins
IMDb Challenge #176/ 250 – Ranked #175 – Lovefilm
A Japanese beaurocrat (Takashi Shimura) discovers he has terminal cancer, and after an initially fruitless search for meaning in his dull existence, decides to become highly assertive in the construction of a park in his city.
Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s, Ikiru which translated into English means “to live”. Is a powerful yet simple visual storytelling of one mans journey and what it means to be truly alive, in this case Kanji Watanabe following his tragic discovery of cancer.
The final forty minutes of the film are unusual, as the main story is over and through a series of strange flashbacks it involves other characters reflecting on Watanabe’s condition and his quest to build the park. I felt this last chapter unnecessary and weakened the film as a whole. That aside, Ikiru is a sincere and incredibly well-made film that comes complete with an emotional closing shot.
#294/ 365 – ‘Yojimbo′ (1961) – 110 mins
IMDb Challenge #177/ 250 – Ranked #125 – Lovefilm
Yojimbo, a wandering samurai enters a rural town in nineteenth century Japan. After learning from the innkeeper that the town is divided between two gangsters, he plays one side off against the other.
Upon on watching Yojimbo for the first time today. I thought I’ve seen this story played out before and recently in the challenge, most notably it inspired Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western ‘A Fistful Of Dollars’. Yojimbo is full with fights, chases, and schemes being conjured up aplenty from Sanjuro the crafty samurai. Despite all this busyness director Akira Kurosawa still allows plenty of time in between for building compelling characters in the gangs townsfolk.
#295/ 365 – ‘Ran′ (1985) – 162 mins
IMDb Challenge #178/ 250 – Ranked #126 – Lovefilm
A Japanese warlord coming to the end of his days, decides to divide his kingdom up between his three sons. But his youngest thinks him mad, and that his plan will lead to bloodshed, and soon enough the older brothers have taken up arms against one another.
The visuals, like the few Kurosawa films I had seen before ‘Ran’ are rich, alluring and awash with colour. The Japanese countryside through a series of astounding and well composed shots makes for some incredible wide vistas, from the lush green hills to the rough volcanic valleys. The story is epic in itself with memorable scenes like when the Great Lord Hidetora Ichimonji demands family unity from his three sons, Hidetora shows that a single arrow can be easily broken, but three arrows held together are strong.
Ran is a long watch at 2 hours and 40 minutes and at times I did find myself not connecting with the story as deeply as I had with other Kurosawa films. Nonetheless Ran is still highly recommended viewing. After now watching four films for the first time in ‘Rashomon’ ‘Ikiru’ ‘Yojimbo’ and ‘Ran’ from the visionary Akira Kurosawa on this iMDB #250 quest of mine. Means I now have a distinct liking for his films and can’t wait to witness, possibly his best work? – In ‘Seven Samurai’ in the coming weeks.