Thursday, August 06, 2009

"I Live in Fear" (Language - Japanese) (1955) - Movie Review

Feeling helpless in planet filled with bombs is an inescapable phenomenon. But ignoring the dangers of the world for a peaceful evening is a cruel gift to yearn. That is the insanity in the sanity and happiness of the accepted ignorance. The man in “I Live in Fear” is cursed with the worry of the Atom Bomb and Hydrogen Bomb. After World War II, in 1955 Japan, an aging business man Kiichi Nakajima (Toshiro Mifune) spends his days begging his family to evacuate the dreadful country for a safer place.

Akira Kurosawa’s post war picture is a strange but very necessary tale of that times. Now it is even more resonant. It does lose its fizz as we give up on this old man driving himself mad on the fear, it evokes the question. As in the end the psychiatrist is wondering whether the world is the psychiatric ward filled with people who run their day to day life in the midst of imminent threats and go by their way.

A dentist Dr. Harada (Takashi Shimura) is a domestic counselor for family court and there he has to sit through the dispute of this family. Nakajima’s sons and daughter decided that enough of their dad’s craziness. He has poured the money in building a bunker for shelter before he halted because the fallout has been predicted wrong on North/South indecision. He feels Brazil is the safest place in these tough times and begins venturing to shift his family. It is insane but the fear is real. He cannot fathom the fact that nobody is not worried about it.

He is a sound man and prudent personality. He is totally in control of his behaviour and emotions. That makes Dr. Harada and the other members of the court introspecting on their view point of the post tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The numbness towards this stirs the shock and fear in them. The problem is they understand and empathize with both the parties of the case. A father desperate to save his family and the family desperate to stop this self destructing behaviour. Soon though as Nakajima elevates his actions and result of the court ruling against him, the sons, daughter and the mistresses begin to hunt for the property of the man.

There is no camera technique or angles of shot the director generally loves to do. This is very emotional to the concept of living in a country which went through the worst calamity in the history of the world and the effect of it in the people. Sadly the state of affair has only branched out exponentially to different parts of the globe. Back in India, it has become a day to day happening of bombs exploding in major cities and people begin to make it a part of their routine. In the borders, conflicts and the disturbing scenarios of these attacks have only implanted the nature of being callous. But what else can the ordinary people do? Worrying only makes it worse and hence it is comfortable to ignore and exist than worry and wither away.

That behaviour is human seasoning but Kurosawa constantly makes the character of Nakajima to live in this fear. He thinks good for his kin, yet he forgets the priority of their choices. They begin to get annoyed and forget to acknowledge that their father is trying to do good. Slowly the conflict spreads the rift into enormous gap and once the emotion is cleaned up, materialism is all its left. Along with that comes insensitiveness and hence the cruel end.
This is not the best of Kurosawa but a noteworthy for the material and the question it haunts upon its viewers. After fifty-four years, the threat is still there and the people who are yet to be affected go on with the fear buried underneath. It is not a story of right or wrong but the nature of this destruction exercise puts upon people. Kurosawa takes sides with the man because he empathizes and may be feel more like that. Every one of us does and the life of busy activities paint over partially to move on.

Mifune was thirty-five when he did this film and he presents an old man going through time and depression on his physicality. He growls and is irritated that his kids have dragged him to the court and humiliate him. Yet he goes out and brings them cold drinks during the muggy and hot afternoon in the court. This is a film birthed out of the fear in the creators. Many have moved on by that time but the incumbent hiding scare is within and Kurosawa points out that nature of being used to of the atrocity.

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