Each one [of the films I’ve made with Kurosawa] is something very like a revelation to me – not only about him, but about myself as well. Talking about actors’ realizing themselves, when I am with Kurosawa... I realize myself best. And yet he never dictates. Rather, he allows you to do your best, and for him you do it. – Takashi ShimuraPhotos and quotation from This Must Be the Place. Fans of Akira Kurosawa will recognize the film as Ikiru. As much as I love his chanbara (samurai films) and jidai-geki (period films), Ikiru remains one of my favorites. From my most extensive post on Kurosawa:
Ikiru (To Live, 1952): A petty bureaucrat discovers he's terminally ill, and turns first to hedonism but then struggles to find some deeper meaning or last gesture. This one starts slowly, but is well worth the time, with a great performance by long-time Kurosawa collaborator Takashi Shimura. There's some funny and occasionally very dark satire in this one, including a wonderful bureaucracy montage. (There's also a scene of overacting that makes me wince, but hey, it was the young actress' first film.) The story cycles around and ever closer in on Kanji Watanabe (Shimura), building in emotional power. There's a scene in a park near the end that's one of the most moving I've ever seen. It's true of many Kurosawa films, but this one will really stay with you.