Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Live in Fear (1955)


When Dr. Harada (Takashi Shimura) is called to act as an advisor for a family court case, he never imagines the case will shape his life. The case involves the protest of the Nakajima family, who are seeking an injunction on their elderly father's (Toshiro Mifune) recent desire to sell all his Japanese belongings and move to Brazil for fear of another atomic attack.

In the midst of his 1950s-60s boom as a director Kurosawa decided to make a controversial, political, drama centering on the struggles of a worldwide society to decide what is safe. Toshiro Mifune is simply unrecognizable, perfectly incognito, as the main role of Kiichi Nakajima, something I was surprised to find considering many believe him to have been a miscast. On the contrary, Mifune delivers a captivating character performance, much in the same traits of the elderly man in Eastwood's Gran Torino, based in tradition, and struggling to analyze the need to protect his family with the impending dangers of another attack.

The movie could be compared, on some level, to the later Kurosawa film Rhapsody in August. In Rhapsody, Kurosawa analyzes the effects the a-bomb of Nagasaki have on an elderly woman, who, much like our character here, in the end performs a final irrational action that leads to a strong break in the mental fortitude of the family. Still, it's the interactions between these characters that elevate this film above sub-par.

The final conversation between Nakajima and Dr. Harada strikes at the very core of the viewer. A final mental deterioration that will leave you in a state of true inner reflection. I Live in Fear, even here, manages to remain unjudging. For the majority of the film both the children and Kiichi are presented in equal light, with favor waying back and forth between the two of them as they both possess moments of negative display.

The only real flaw for I Live in Fear lies in its storytelling. Not exactly the best in execution, the writing feels a bit bland, and simplified considering the deep emotionally straining plot.

While not handled with the greatest of care, Kurosawa's '55 film on the times of the cold war delivers great acting, intriguing subject matter, and a central tone that allows the viewers to judge for themselves.

0 better thoughts:

Related Posts with Thumbnails