Akira Kurosawa's talent for analysis, interpretation and projection is again apparent in "To Live." [30 Jan 1960, p.22]
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If it weren't so confused in its story-telling, it would be one of the major postwar films from Japan. As it stands, it is a strangely fascinating and affecting film, up to a point—that being the point where it consigns its aged hero to the great beyond.
Ikiru wows for its complicated interrogation (and innovation) of subjective, cinematic experiences of time and memory, but lulls in its commemoration of a wealthy, privileged man who finally decides to care after it’s absolutely confirmed he has no time left to live.
A thoughtful, existential meditation about the meaning of life and what constitutes a life well-lived, Ikiru is almost guaranteed to prod the viewer to examine his or her own mortality and ponder how, in the end, the scales will tip.
The genius of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru is the way this deeply sentimental film continually deflates sentimentality.
Over the years I have seen "Ikiru" every five years or so, and each time it has moved me, and made me think.