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I'm going to come out and say it: 4 years ago, age 22, I was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Without going into details, I undertook a very different journey than most to the cancer experience, I fought, with alternatives and great stubbornness, spending a lot of time exploring my darkside and making peace with myself. My dogged determination and some remarkable occurences seem to have ensured remission, but you can't beat the human condition and I have no pretenses at immortality, so whether you give me another 5 or 50 years…my only mission as such is to take life by the balls and remember this film.
Watching this film for the first time tonight presents life's exit as ultimate and inescapable, giving the viewer a choice both crystal clear and razor sharp. How would you live if passion and love were your only choices? It's that simple, that brutal. Towards the end, the pacing drops to 'utterly aching', and the sound drops away: yes, the film itself might be a little too long, but the lethargic pacing in the final reel is there for a purpose, this is where you come in, where you meditate on what death means to you. Kurosawa is respecting your intelligence, inviting you to cut out your heart for the grandest of causes. The beautifully shot sets almost breathe with that intensity. I see a great amount of what I've become in those moments where Wanatabe bows his head only to slowly rise and stare into the camera: such despondency, yet such fierce longing and humanity burning deeply in his wide open eyes. I saw the best of man in a single moment, and I almost wanted to cheer. I don't see this as a sad film - my grief has been satiated. Wanatabe does not become the angel of death that he is briefly portrayed as. That choice is open to all of us.
This work welcomes a conversation on the most human of topics in a graceful and powerful way. Every human being should watch this deeply, deeply mature film.
Beautifully shot, Timeless.
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