Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Ikiru (To Live)"

In 1952, Akira Kurosawa made a movie about a civil servant who contracts stomach cancer and has 6 months to live. The initial shock sends him into depression and self-recrimination as he realizes he's spent 30 years at a job that was so mind-numbing, he can't think of a thing he's achieved. So he sets out to build a park for some locals, but is faced with Japan's wall of bureaucracy that wants never to take responsibility for anything.

It's a long movie and a bit redundant, but to a purpose, and the last half is told in flashbacks by the hypocrites who mourn at his funeral (BIG Hollywood no-no)...but the ending is beautifully devastating in its tenderness and acceptance. I watched a documentary after the movie -- A Message From Akira Kurosawa, For Beautiful movies -- in Japanese, that takes you through all the steps he thinks important as regards making a movie. This should be standard viewing in all film schools.

I'd seen Ikiru years ago, I think while I was still in college, so I didn't remember a lot about the story. It cut deep. Kurosawa was cursed by the Academy's preference for giving actors turned directors Oscars instead of true cinematic visionaries. The fact that Sydney Pollack got Best Director for Out of Africa instead of Kurosawa for Ran scarred them, in my opinion.

They finally gave him an honorary one in 1990, and about damned time --
I wish the clip showed something of a cross-section of his work, but it's till worthwhile. And he went on to make even more movies, well into his 80s.

I needed this, today. I had a bad moment of futility crash in on me while filling in the storyboards I'd done for CK, and I needed something to chase it away. The beauty of Kurosawa's work always does work wonders on my psyche.

Now if I could just do something about my psychoses...

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