Ikiru - Milestones

This 1952 Japanese film co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa was supposedly inspired by LN Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilyich", but also contains elements remininscent of "A Christmas Carol".

In the Hook, Kanji Watanabe plods away as chief of the Citizen's Section of Tokyo Townhall. He stamps documents, cleans his seal and pen, and instructs subordinates to refer the citizens to other departments. One group of citizens goes from department to department trying to get a mosquito-infested pond drained.

In the Inciting Incident, Watanabe's son, Mitsuo, returns home with his wife. They discuss the condition of Watanabe's house and likely state of Watanabe's finances now that he is approaching retirement. They find him in their room, where he has been waiting to Mitsuo about his diagnosis of gastric cancer.

At Plot Turn 1, Watanabe has taken 50,000 yen out of his bank account and sits drinking in a small bar with a self-described author of cheap novels. The author suggests there must be some cosmic reason for Watanabe's illness. Watanabe replies that there isn't: he's just a stupid fool. Shortly after this exchange, Watanabe asks the author to show him how to have a good time and they head out for some of Tokyo's nightlife.

At Pinch Point 1, Watanabe dances uncomfortably with a prostitute or escort in a crowded club. The nightlife clearly is not the comfort he needs.

At the Midpoint, Watanabe ice skates with Toyo, a young female subordinate who has sought him out for the seal she needs on her notice of resignation.

At Pinch Point 2, Watanabe realizes that it's not too late to do something important at work. After as scene showing Watanabe mobilizing an inspection of the mosquito-infested pond, the narrator tells us that Watanabe dies five months later. The action here looks more like a Plot Turn, Deciding Incident or Conclusion than a Pinch Point, but it still serves the Pinch Point function: By raising hope, it raises the stakes and the sense of threat.

At Plot Turn 2, Watanabe's subordinates speculate about the reason for his sudden change in behavior. This is part of a larger discussion about his role in the building of a park where the mosquito-infested pond used to be.

At the Deciding Incident, Watanabe's successor remembers Watanabe's saying he has no time to be angry with the officials who continually stall on the issue of draining the pond and building a park. This memory combines Watanabe's drive and stamina on his last project with his struggle to endure his cancer. Soon the park will be built and soon Watanabe will be dead.

In the Conclusion, surbordinates who drunkenly resolved to carry on Watanabe's legacy by working hard for the public fall back into the rut of referring people to other departments and doing nothing more than shuffling documents. The one subordinate distressed by this failure to change spends a few minutes contemplating the park Watanabe worked so hard to see built.



Minute Calc Dec Min Min:Sec Milestones Quote Range MaL Range MiL Range MiH Range MaH
End minute 2.10 2:06 Hook Decrepit Tokyo Townhall Citizen's Section chief Kanji Watanabe plods through his day stamping documents and telling his subordinates to send supplicants to other departments.     6:26 10:45
140.6 19.41 19:25 Inciting Incident Watanabe's daughter-in-law complains to Watanabe's son Mitsuo about the state of Watanabe's house. 10:45 15:05 23:44 28:04
First minute 36.73 36:435 Plot Turn 1 Watanabe tells the writer there's no reason for his illness. He's just a stupid fool. 28:04 32:24 41:03 45:23
2.1 54.04 54:02 Pinch 1 Watanabe dances uncomforrably with a prostitute. 45:23 49:43 58:22 62:42
Preminutes 71.35 71:21 Midpoint Watanabe and Toyo go ice skating. 62:42 67:01 75:41 80
2.1 88.66 88:4 Pinch 2 Watanabe leaves the restaurant clutching Toyo's mechanical bunny. He realizes there's still time to accomplish something. 80 84:2 92:59 97:19
Minute total 105.98 105:58 Plot Turn 2 At Watanabe's wake, one subordinate wonders why Watanabe changed so suddenly. 97:19 101:39 110:18 114:38
138.5 123.29 123:17 Deciding Incident Watanabe's successor remembers telling Watanabe that the Deputy Mayor's Office should just decide whether there is or isn't money for the park Watanabe is pushing for. 114:38 118:58 127:37 131:57
  140.60 140:36 Conclusion After drunkenly resolving at Watanabe's wake to work hard and serve the people, the Citizen's Section continues to send people to other departments. One extremely loyal subordinate sadly visits Watanabe's park. 131:57 136:16    
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