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Unformatted text preview: nerable native tradition, reveals the eternal Japanese
sensitivity to the flow of time, especially as experienced in the passage of
the seasons, and to the finite quality of man in nature and not opposed
to it. There could be no more eloquent statement of this sensitivity than
the ending of the film when, after the bandits have been repulsed for
good, the villagers must turn their attention to spring planting and the
surviving samurai are obliged, after briefly paying their respects at the
graves of their comrades, to move on. Thus they resume the status of
rònin—a status that implies social uncertainty and, once again, an absence
of direction or meaning in life.
In Ikiru Kurosawa dealt, in a contemporary setting, with the crisis of 320 Culture in the Present Age a man who is informed that he is terminally ill with cancer. A petty
bureaucrat nearing retirement, the man realizes that for years he has led
a joyless and robotlike existence, his private life a void and his public
vision restricted to his own worm’s-eye view of the functioning of government. He determines to do one socially meaningful, good thing
before he dies, and he thereupon embarks upon a campaign to bring
about the construction of a small park after the petition for it by a group
of neighborhood people has been interminably delayed and misdirected
through a maze of bureaucratic offices, including his own. Ikiru is an
uncompromising critique of officialdom and the world of bureaucratic
If Kurosawa is to be regarded as the most Western of Japanese film
directors, then his polar opposite is Ozu Yasujirò (1903–63), the most
Japanese of all directors. A leader in film since the prewar period, Ozu
focused his attention almost entirely on the conflict between the traditional and the modern as seen through changing relationships in the
Japanese family. The historical antecedents of films on the family (the
shomin-geki discussed in the preceding chapter) were the domestic plays
(sewamono) of the puppet and kabuki theatres of Tokugawa times...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13