“Living”: A Fresh Adaptation of a Classic Film “Ikiru”


Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro has written an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 classic “Ikiru” set in post-World War II London, titled “Living.” The film stars Bill Nighy in the main role and has been nominated for best-adapted screenplay and best actor in a leading role at the upcoming Academy Awards.

Reimagined for a New Generation

Ishiguro drew from his own experience growing up in London and watching Kurosawa’s original film to craft the adaptation. He wanted to explore what it means to be British while remaining true to the original story of a Japanese official searching for the meaning of life after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. In the movie “Ikiru,” the main character realizes he has lived a boring life and decides to build a playground for the children in his neighborhood. The movie ends with him singing a Japanese ballad on a swing in the snow-covered park he helped create.

The setting of post-war London gives the film an elegant and refined look. Although the essential elements of the original story remain intact, “Living” offers a fresh take on eternal themes – life, love. The director, Ishiguro wanted to keep the main elements of the original movie intact while introducing new aspects that would appeal to younger viewers. He aimed to create a connection between the past and present and hoped to ensure that the movie’s message would remain relevant for future generations.

A Masterful Performance

Bill Nighy was Ishiguro’s first choice for the role of bureaucrat Rodney Williams. Nighy’s ability to evoke the archetypal image of an English gentleman brings an aura to the character, similar to Ryu in Ozu’s films. Film critic Yuichiro Nishimura says that “Living” reminds him of Ozu’s famous past films, with its calm and simple depiction of scenes that could have been portrayed in a very dramatic way.

Ishiguro raises issues of urgent question of what is important in our lives. “In ‘Ikiru’ and ‘Living,’ it’s a love of life. He wants to love the people around him, he wants to love himself,” Ishiguro said.

“Living” is a stunning adaptation of a classic film, that will captivate both old and new audiences alike.