Author Topic: Ikimono no kiroku (I Live in Fear) (1955)  (Read 1508 times)

Offline Antares

  • Super Heavy Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 4100
    • View Profile
Ikimono no kiroku (I Live in Fear) (1955)
« on: June 16, 2010, 02:30:57 AM »
Ikimono no kiroku

Year: 1955
Film Studio: Toho Co. Ltd., The Criterion Collection, Eclipse
Genre: Drama
Length: 103 Min.

Akira Kurosawa (1910)

Shinobu Hashimoto (1918)...Writer
Fumio Hayasaka (1914)...Story By
Akira Kurosawa (1910)...Story By
Hideo Oguni (1904)...Writer

Sôjirô Motoki

Asakazu Nakai (1901)

Masaru Satô (1928)...Composer

Toshirô Mifune (1920) as Kiichi Nakajima
Takashi Shimura (1905) as Domestic Court Counselor Dr. Harada
Minoru Chiaki (1917) as Jiro Nakajima
Eiko Miyoshi (1894) as Toyo Nakajima
Kyôko Aoyama (1935) as Sue Nakajima
Haruko Togo (1920) as Yoki Nakajima
Noriko Sengoku (1922) as Kimie Nakajima
Akemi Negishi (1934) as Asako Kuribayashi

       Akira Kurosawa is most famously remembered for the samurai epics he made in the 50’s and 60’s. Shichinin no samurai, Kumonosu jô and Yojimbo were landmark films which bolstered Kurosawa’s directorial prestige around the globe. Sandwiched between the first two films I mentioned was Ikimono no kiroku (I Live in Fear), a postwar drama set amidst the fears of nuclear Armageddon. For the most part, this film has been forgotten or dismissed by most critics and Kurosawa fans alike. And while it may not have the intensity of his jidai-geki films, or the subtle humanity of say Ikiru, it does have relevance in Kurosawa’s canon of screen releases. It would also be a turning point in the careers of both Toshirô Mifune & Takashi Shimura, as from this film on, Mifune would be the star and Shimura would be relegated to supporting roles. Unfortunately, this change really should have taken place starting in the next film, as Shimura would have been better suited to portray the main character this time out.

       Kiichi Nakajima (Mifune) is the patriarch of a modestly successful family living in postwar Tokyo. The factory that the family owns is prosperous, due to the fact that Kiichi is an astute businessman and governs his interests with intelligence and compassion. It is the same for the family that counts on his company to provide the profits needed to keep the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to, on an even keel. But as world tensions are increasing, due to the creation of the H-bomb, Kiichi’s actions have started to worry his children. They fear that his paranoia over the thought of nuclear annihilation has made him delusional and slowly his mind is slipping towards insanity. Yet Kiichi see his actions as noble and protective of the family that he loves, which includes children from various mistresses he has relations with. His plan is to sell the factory and move his family circle to a safe haven away from the nuclear stalemate that’s being played on the world stage. His Garden of Eden is Brazil, and to that end, Kiichi has made arrangements with a Japanese farmer and landowner who has been living there, to swap interests in their respective countries.

       The family is not pleased with the thought of uprooting themselves and moving halfway across the world to start their new life and try to have their father deemed incompetent by an impartial court of arbitrators. It is in this court where the film opens as the various members of Kiichi’s extended family are vying for position in anticipation of the courts ruling. But when the proceedings are finished, they are dismayed to learn that Kiichi’s demeanor and the reasoning behind his actions have struck a nerve in the minds of the arbiters.  They too live with a repressed fear of nuclear bombs, as countrymen sharing a bond that is brought about by being the only nation to have had that tragedy visited upon them. So for the time being, they decide to grant an injunction against Kiichi, which keeps the old man from selling his factory. But they don’t acquiesce to the family’s desire to have Kiichi deemed incompetent; instead they pass the case along to the next level in the adjudication process.

       Kiichi harbors no ill will toward his family over the proceedings and as the film progresses; we see just how much he really cares for them. It is in their selfishness to keep what is theirs, that his children are truly blind to his compassionate side. Kiichi starts to believe that the factory is the anchor that is keeping him from setting sail to his imagined paradise. In a moment of desperation, to save his family from the horrors he has conjured up in his mind, he destroys what he had built up with his bare hands from scratch. When he explains his reasoning to his family, they finally believe that he has gone mad.
(click to show/hide)

       Is it a must see? Not really, but if your interested in Kurosawa beyond his samurai films then it is worth a viewing. Its message may now seem overly melodramatic by today’s standards, but the performances are first rate and as with all Kurosawa films, it is beautifully filmed.

Review Criterion
5 Stars - The pinnacle of film perfection and excellence.
4 ½ Stars - Not quite an immortal film, yet a masterpiece in its own right.
4 Stars - Historically important film, considered a classic.
3 ½ Stars - An entertaining film that’s fun or engaging to watch.
3 Stars – A good film that’s worth a Netflix venture.
2 ½ Stars - Borderline viewable.
2 Stars – A bad film that may have a moment of interest.
1 ½ Stars – Insipid, trite and sophomoric, and that's its good points.
1 Star – A film so vacuous, it will suck 2 hours from the remainder of your life.
½ Star - A gangrenous and festering pustule in the chronicles of celluloid.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 12:05:11 AM by Antares »