Ikiru - To Live
I just finished watching Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru. To say that it's very good or excellent wouldn't really be doing it justice. Profound, that seems like a more suitable adjective to describe it. It's thought provoking and contemplative about life like many of my favorite films, like Citizen Kane or It's A Wonderful Life - in fact it's lack of overt sentimentality make it more appealing to some than those films. Though, that makes it sound as if it lacks the entertainment or emotion of the other films, which isn't true. It is entertaining and engrossing throughout, in a way few films have been for me lately.
The story of Kenji Wantanabe is a story of a realization of a life wasted, and a life redeemed. It's equal parts A Christmas Carol and Death Of A Salesman, while maintaining it's own identity. Wantanabe-san is a mid-level buracrat in an unnamed Japanese city. His job is essentially meaningless, shuffling papers for thirty years. When he discovers that he has stomach cancer and only a few months to live, Wantanabe goes through a soul searching that spans wild partying to self-pity, until realizing the impact he can make in his position with the short time he has left. His journey to self-discovery, and his effort to create a legacy, challenges us to do make the most of the time we have on earth, while never forgetting the human side of our jobs.
Having been a fan of Kurosawa's samurai films, such as Shichinin no samurai (Seven Samurai), but hadn't seen any of his other work until now. It's amazing how accessible Kurosawa is to Western audiences (something for which he was criticized at home). He references classic myths and archetypes to explore a universal human question. For me, the question of how to make the most of the position one is in is very real. Even though I am in university, there is no guarentee that I have a long life ahead of me. My challenge, like Wantanabe-san, is how to live my life in a way that I would be happy if it were to end at any moment. Ikiru, which means "to live", is definitely one of the great films.
On a less serious note, I'm anticipating waking up and going to Future Shop to get the newest album from U2, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. As a big fan, I've been waiting for this for four long years. In preparation I listened to, what I consider, their three best albums today.
1. Achtung Baby (1992) - Probably one of my all time favourites. Brilliantly bridging the gap between the classic arena-rock U2 of the 80s and defining the band as pop innovators for the next decade. Highlights include "The Fly", "Mysterious Ways", and "Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World."Where will Atomic Bomb end up on the final list? While "Vertigo" is a great catchy single, I hear some of the other tracks are even better, especially "Love and Peace Or Else" (love that name). Tomorrow morning, we'll know for sure!
2. The Joshua Tree (1987) - For many the definitive U2 album, and one which swells with emotion and spiritual awareness. "Where The Streets Have No Name", "In God's Country" and "One Tree Hill" are stand out.
3. War (1993) - The album where U2 really defined what they are and stand for. "Sunday, Bloody Sunday", "Two Hearts Beat As One" and "40" are wonderful.