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Japan · 1952
2h 23m
Director Akira Kurosawa
Starring Takashi Shimura, Haruo Tanaka, Nobuo Kaneko, Bokuzen Hidari
Genre Drama

After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Mr. Watanabe vows to make his final days meaningful. His attempts to communicate his anguish to his son and daughter-in-law lead only to heartbreak. Finally, inspired by an unselfish co-worker, he turns his efforts to bringing happiness to others by building a playground in a poor neighborhood, but is unsure if he will live to see its completion.

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What are people saying?

Meagen Tajalle Profile picture for Meagen Tajalle

Ikiru is a criminally overlooked Kurosawa film. It's stylistically striking and philosophical, and surprisingly life-affirming although it begins with the morbid premise of a dying man. Kurosawa captures a transforming postwar Japan as astutely as Ozu.

Nina Gallagher Profile picture for Nina Gallagher

Ikiru is a stand out in Kurosawa's classic filmography. Following Mr. Watanabe's grave diagnosis and subsequent anxiety and acceptance, the film takes the audience through a journey of action and self-discovery. At once melancholy and uplifting, Ikiru is an essential viewing for any Kurosawa fan.

What are critics saying?


New York Daily News by

Akira Kurosawa's talent for analysis, interpretation and projection is again apparent in "To Live." [30 Jan 1960, p.22]


The New York Times by Bosley Crowther

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.


Slant Magazine by Clayton Dillard

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.


ReelViews by James Berardinelli

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.


LarsenOnFilm by Josh Larsen

The genius of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru is the way this deeply sentimental film continually deflates sentimentality.

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