Regarding the rnin as a mere nuisance officials of

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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 inertia. 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.

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