Akira Kurosawa’s screenplay for ‘Ikiru’

Considered by some to be Akira Kurosawa’s greatest achievement, Ikiru presents the director at his most compassionate—affirming life through an exploration of a man’s death. Takashi Shimura portrays Kanji Watanabe, an aging bureaucrat with stomach cancer forced to strip the veneer off his existence and find meaning in his final days. Told in two parts, Ikiru offers Watanabe’s quest in the present, and then through a series of flashbacks. The result is a multifaceted look at a life through a prism of perspectives, resulting in a full portrait of a man who lacked understanding from others in life.

Here’s a screenwriting gold: Shinobu Hashimoto, Akira Kurosawa & Hideo Oguni’s screenplay for Ikiru. Translated by Donald Richie [PDF]. (NOTE: For educational and research purposes only). Thanks to mypdfscripts’ Sheridan. The DVD of the film is available from the Criterion Collection in new high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound. Also, for your reading pleasure—Ikiru exhibitor manual; Kurosawa on Kurosawa, and other documents.

“Kurosawa does not like to talk about his films, nor is he fond of discussing film theory. Once, when I ask him about the meaning of one of his pictures, he said: If I could have said it in words, I would have—than I wouldn’t have needed to make the picture. Recently, however, Kurosawa expressed an interest in looking back over the body of his work, and these are the results. I have deleted nothing and have only added to the material when it seemed relevant.” —Donald Richie, Kurosawa on Kurosawa, Sight and Sound

A Message from Akira Kurosawa: For Beautiful Movies (2000)—a 90-minute documentary that includes ten thematically separated interviews with Akira Kurosawa, filmed towards the end of his life. The director discusses his filmmaking and his quest for making the perfect, or “beautiful,” movie. This documentary is a must see for all movie buffs, and certainly for all Akira Kurosawa fans.


Chapter 1—The seed of a film
Chapter 2—Screenplays
Chapter 3—Storyboards
Chapter 4—Filming
Chapter 5—Lighting
Chapter 6—Production design
Chapter 7—Costumes
Chapter 8—Editing
Chapter 9—Music
Chapter 10—Directing

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