THE BLOG
04/15/2014 10:58 am ET Updated Jun 15, 2014

Die Hard Without a Vengeance

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What if you were told you had 24 hours to live? You could have swallowed a poison capsule by accident or perhaps you had recondite knowledge of Armageddon. What would you do? Empty the bank account and go on a hedonistic odyssey in which you gratify all your as yet unfulfilled fetishes and desires? Would you purchase the high priced hooker (s) or gigolo(s)? Would you fly to Thailand and have the soapy massage or massage sandwich with two lovelies? Probably not, it's too long a flight and if there were delays, you could be DOA. Under the theory that money can buy anything, you'd probably decide you can find what you are looking for closer to home. What if food rather than sex was the ultimate pleasure as far as you were concerned? Would you construct an elaborate Last Supper composed of foie gras, chateaubriand, cold lobster, naturally caviar and say no holds bar the world's greatest dessert? Would you finally fork out for those Teuscher champagne truffles that had previously seemed wastefully expensive. This is the theme of Kurosawa's Ikiru. In that case Kurosawa's character, Watanabe, learns he has a year to live. He embarks on a Walpurgisnacht in which he attempts to gratify his desires in the seedy side of town, but materialistic pleasures soon prove wanting and he finally devotes himself to helping children by creating a playground. There's a wonderful scene at the end of the film when with little time left, Watanabe sits on a swing, in the playground he has built, as the snow begins to fall.

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}