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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ikimono No Kiruku (aka I Live In Fear) (1955)

The patriarch (a near unrecognizable Toshiro Mifune) of a large extended family and owner of a profitable foundry becomes paranoid about atom and hydrogen bombs. When he makes plans to sell the foundry and move the family to Brazil, the family takes him to court to rule on his competence. Fear of the H-bomb and nuclear war were prevalent in the 1950s to the point of paranoia. Director Akira Kurosawa's film asks is that paranoia justified? Are the ones who fear the horror of radiation poisoning and nuclear annihilation the sick ones or are the ones who blithely ignore it and give it up to fate the ill? Of course, Kurosawa's film takes it to the most extreme example. Mifune's character becomes paranoid to the point of insanity and the film's last scene is most disturbing as well as heartbreaking. Considering the events in Japan this past month, the film feels more timely than ever. Over 50 years since the film was made and the question mark still remains. With Takashi Shimura as a family court arbitrator who takes a personal interest in Mifune's case. Strong stuff.

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