A few weeks back, Nagini Kandala posted on pustakam.net about Leo Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”. I felt the story looked so similar to Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film “Ikiru” and came to know that the movie was actually motivated by the film. Now, I still did not read Tolstoy’s novel but my thoughts focused on Ikiru.
Thanks to the wonderful Inter Library Loan scheme here, a couple of days ago, I got a criterion collection DVD of Ikiru with a bonus documentary on Kurosawa and several other perks. I first watched the movie more than five years ago (here is a small article I wrote on the movie at Navatarangam.com) and so, I wondered if it will seem any different to me now.
(FYI: I realized recently that my thoughts on what I liked about Rashomon changed significantly from my first watch.)
For now, this small post is just some random notes on the movie and its accompanying commentaries on the DVD set.
Ikiru – movie
“Over the years I have seen Ikiru every five years or so, and each time it has moved me, and made me think. And the older I get, the less Watanabe seems like a pathetic old man, and the more he seems like every one of us.”
-Roger Ebert, the famous film critic said about this movie.
When I finished watching the movie, although I did not know Ebert’s words, I felt exactly the same way… that I am finding the old man Watanabe less irritating and more closer to life.
Now, I think I can say that this is one of the best movies I watched (Okay, I did not watch most of the “must watch” movies in those 10s and 100s of movie lists yet).
To know more on Ikiru, visit its wiki page.
As much as I want to write more here, for now, I don’t want to. May be some other time.
Criterion collection – Comments
Apart from the movie itself, the first DVD contained another version of the movie with some comments from Criterion Collection folks. The commentary too ran for almost as long as the movie. I like the idea and I really enjoyed the commentary to a large extent and listened to it without skipping any part. (So I ended up watching the movie again!)
Those comments on certain details I failed to notice when I watched the movie (e.g., comments on dressing style, or the mannerisms etc.,) and the trivia shared were certainly interesting. However, there were also moments where I felt that it was an overkill. I wondered if so much of analysis and spoon feeding is really necessary. Also, despite the apparent knowledge of the commentator, and the depth of this analysis, eventually, I was left with a feeling – “After all, all this commentary is just his interpretation of the movie”.
(Disclaimer: Okay, all you film critics, film students etc- don’t blast me. I would like think freely at least after initial guidance. I don’t like these spoon feeding kind of commentaries and its just a personal preference. I won’t respond to spiteful comments).
Anyway, I would think that the idea to add a commented version is great and it needs to be used at our own discretion.
Documentary on Kurosawa’s movies:
The best part of the second DVD in this set is listening to Kurosawa speaking about his movies. When I read his autobiography, the only thing that disappointed me was the fact that he stopped the story just before the international release of “Rashomon”. Since all his movies I saw were those that came after it, I was naturally curious to read his stories on those movies. The current documentary filled that void by not only making him talk about his various movies, but also by interspersing his comments with those of people who worked with him and with video clippings of the shoots.
For aspiring film-makers, these documentaries provide interesting and useful tips. For general film viewers, these documentaries are very interesting and informative. Who does not want to have a sneak-peak into the film production life of their favourite director? This interview is the one that could be revisited again and again. I would perhaps rent this DVD again after a few months/years.
There ends the story of how a dull early-autumn weekend was made colorful, thanks to this DVD!