Feb 25, 2009

1st March 2009 ; Kurosawa's IKURU

Film by Akira Kurosawa
Year 1952
Country : Japan
Japanese with English subtitles
Run time :143 minutes
1st  March  2009 ; 5.45 pm
Ashwin Hospital Auditorium
Call : 94430 39630

This  is Akira Kurosawa's 1952 film about a bureaucrat who works for 30 years at Tokyo City Hall and never accomplishes anything. Mr. Watanabe has become the chief of his section, and sits with a pile of papers on either side of his desk, in front of shelves filled with countless more documents. Down a long table on either side of him, his assistants shuffle these papers back and forth. Nothing is ever decided. His job is to deal with citizen complaints, but his real job is to take a small rubber stamp and press it against each one of the documents, to show that he has handled it.

Half of the film is told in the third person and half is his sacrifice as seen through the eyes of guests at his funeral. Kurosawa performs a tour-de-force in keeping a dramatic thread throughout and avoiding the mawkish. It is technically excellent with a telling Occidental-type musical score. It is also the most expressive in its cinematic style, and  one of the major postwar films from Japan.

Ikiru scrutinizes what little use the postwar generation has for its elders (though far from villainous, Watanabe's son is a self-obsessed lout), but its largest target is Balkanized local government. The portrait of buck-passing mini-departments and administrative double-speak verges on satirical.
Kurosawa often flashes that cinematic style of sharp reportage and introspection of his characters that distinguishes his film. He patiently studies his people, gives them plenty of time to move and surrounds them with rich and meaningful details in composing the comment of a scene. As a consequence, you see more human nature and more Japanese customs in this film—more emotion, personality and ways of living—than in most of the others that have gone before.
(source : Internet)

Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa was the youngest of seven children, born in Tokyo on 23 March 1910. A talented painter, he enrolled in an art school that emphasized Western styles. Around this time he also joined an artists' group with a great enthusiasm for nineteenth-century Russian literature, with Dostoevsky a particular favourite. Another influence was Heigo, one of his brothers, who loved film and worked as a benshi, a film narrator/commentator for foreign silent films. 

Kurosawa’s early films were produced during the Second World War, so had to comply to themes prescribed by official state propaganda policy. It was Drunken Angel which was Kurosawa's first personally expressive work, made in 1948 and featuring Toshiro Mifune who became Kurosawa's favourite leading man.

Kurosawa  awakened the West to Japanese cinema with Rashomon, which won the top prize in the Venice Film Festival of 1951, and also a special Oscar for best foreign film. A golden period followed, with the West enthralled by his works. Seven Samurai, Yojimbo etc.

A true auteur, he supervised the editing of nearly all his films and wrote or collaborated on the scripts of most. His memoirs were published in 1982, titled Something like an Autobiography. In 1989 he won an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement. Kurosawa died in 1998.

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