In 1952, two years before the epic sweep of "Seven Samurai," director Kurosawa and star Shimura collaborated on a very different story -- a sort of Japanese version of Tolstoy's _The Death of Ivan Ilyich_ -- in which a drab, colorless city government bureaucrat in postwar Japan learns he has six months to live due to stomach cancer. In trying to find or create meaning in his life he tries various options -- spending all his money on the town, reconnecting with his estranged son, hanging out with a joyful and energetic young female coworker -- and nothing resolves the basic meaninglessness of his life and impending mortality. ("Ikiru" means "to live.") This is a beautifully made, measured tale which, unless you are ready to sink into its tender and sensitive approach, may seem slow, but is incredibly moving if you do. The final scene is as touching and beautiful as the final shot of Chaplin's "City Lights."
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The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus