Akira Kurosawa he had not yet reached the middle of his life when he shot ‘Ikiru (Living)’, one of the most beautiful and subtle films in the history of cinema, a seamless masterpiece in which each scene complements the previous one, and which shows like no other the desire to cling to life even though we have lost our way in it. Now, ‘Living’ does the same. Literally and without blushing in the slightest.
Photocopies at 0.20 euros
We all have prejudices when it comes to watching movies, and group accepted commonplaces that are preventing us from seeing tapes that we would otherwise enjoy. Iranian cinema is boring, in Spain there are only comedies and the Civil War, Akira Kurosawa is only for cultured people. It is useless to unseat each of these phrases made with data and obviousness: it is useless to ‘The Seven Samurai’ be highly entertaining or that ‘The Hidden Fortress’ influenced ‘star wars’. There are people who have insisted that Kurosawa should be synonymous with supine boredom.
And maybe that’s why ‘Living’ is being so praised. In other words: Whoever does not know God, prays to any saint. Oliver Hermanus’s film, compared to Kurosawa’s, is basically an onionskin carbon copy. It is located in London and stars Bill Nighy (which is always appreciated), but they are simple aesthetic changes: instead of trying to investigate its theme from a more modern point of view or providing authorial aesthetics, just copy and paste, cutting here and there to make it lighter (and, let it be said, less interesting).
Gus Van Sant was harshly criticized when in ‘Psycho’ he copied shot for shot the original Hitchcock film, an untouchable of the seventh art that, deep down, is a sincere tribute that is not hidden. As much as you want to modernize or improve ‘Psychosis’ it is impossibleSo why not turn your remake into a meta experiment? At least Van Sant went all out from the beginning, wanting to tell something with his cinema, to make one reflect on the mere fact of the existence of remakes. But ‘Living’ doesn’t do that: as if it were a mischievous student looking over the shoulder of the smart classmate, copy by changing a couple of words and hope the teacher doesn’t catch on to the deception. Surprise: so it has been.
very good tracing
I couldn’t help but be surprised (and blush a little) to see the eminently positive reviews of ‘Living’: a song to life, a sad but happy work that gives us hopean ending that reveals the ephemeral beauty of our days on Earth… I don’t know if they are deliberately ignoring the fact that they have no interest in getting a little bit out of the original mold because we like Bill Nighy or because people say they’ve seen ‘Ikiru’ a lot more than they’ve seen it, but this remake is, by all accounts, a coarse copy-paste.
It is true that, no matter how angry I may be, the general public he will always be more willing to see a movie from 2022 than one from 1955, no matter how good it is. And in this sense, a remake that borders on a photocopy makes sense as a tribute, to convey the ideas of a director to a new generation (which, on the other hand, has no interest in seeing ‘Living’ either). What’s more, it can even be debated whether after the pandemic the message of hope makes more sense than ever and Kurosawa’s carpe diem.
All this is true. It is also true that ‘Ikiru’ is not written on scrolls that can only be accessed by password nor has its narrative been pierced by the passage of time: It’s on Filmin, it’s been released on Blu-Ray, it’s easily found in libraries and from time to time on television shows. It’s accessible, captivating, a delightful memento mori, and a turning point in cinematic history that doesn’t need to be brought out of obscurity. If the intention of ‘Living’ is to shed light on Akira Kurosawa for the new generations, it seems an unusually expensive way to do it.
The child without creativity
Sometimes it seems to us that the remakes are finished, and that with the massive access to culture no one would spend their time telling the same story again without an aesthetic or authorial twist that would justify turning the dial again. Steven Spielberg, for example, showed how to make a remarkable and intelligent remake in the fabulous ‘West Side Story’. But the truth is that we are surrounded by remakessince ‘CODA’ until ‘Full train! Destination Asturias’.
‘Living’ is a particularly tasteless one, which has its greatest achievement in cutting here and there to remake a film that loses its nuances but has its DNA still intact, almost like a surgeon making the exact incisions so as not to damage the organs that keep the film alive but part of what makes it a masterpiece. And it’s a shame, because a remake of ‘Ikiru’ is not a bad idea per se: the problem is that it pays such homage to it (it even places it at the same time) that it becomes a bland homage rather than a cover.
Of course, Bill Nighy is amazing, and it’s hard to find fault with the tape’s technical invoice, but always lives in the shadow of an incomparable work and that he needed a strong author behind him to give him a new point of view. Right now, ‘Living’ is not that different from a simple aesthetic change, a new dress for someone who didn’t need it. All the findings on the tape are inherited, it does not have any of its own, and that is where it connects with its own meaning: What is the reason that ‘Living’ exists? Maybe none, or maybe the sight of an older man swinging on a swing is immortal enough to need reminding every seventy years.
We would like to say thanks to the author of this short article for this remarkable material
‘Living’ is not one of the best movies of the year, just a glorified remake with intentions of Gus Van Sant’s ‘Psycho’
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