Movie Mirrors Index


(Japanese 1952 b 141')

En: 7 Ed: 8

A city bureaucrat learns he will die soon and decides to live after thirty years of death.

Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) works as chief of the city’s citizens department and has stomach pain. Women want water drained to prevent mosquitoes, but the bureaucrats send them from one department to another. A friend tells Kanji that cancer is a death sentence and warns him what will happen. A doctor tells Kanji that he has an ulcer, but he tells his son Mitsuo Watanabe (Makoto Kobori) that Kanji has only six months.

Kanji remembers his wife’s funeral. He has not been going to work. He tells the novelist he has cancer and drinks. Kanji has 50,000 yen and wants to spend it having a good time. The novelist keeps him away from avaricious girls.

Kanji gets a new hat. Toyo (Miki Odagiri) finds him on the street and says she quit her job too. They go to her place. Kanji says he was bored at work for thirty years. She says that Sakai came to ask about him. He sees holes in her stockings and asks where he can buy some. Toyo tells him the funny names she made up for the employees. She calls him the Mummy, and he laughs. They go skating, see a movie, and eat. He says he became a mummy for his son, but he does not appreciate it. She says he loves his son.

At home Mitsuo reads the newspaper and blames Kanji for spending 50,000 yen on Toyo. After two weeks of sick leave, Toyo refuses to go out with Kanji but says one last time. She says she is bored. Kanji tells her that he is going to die soon, and he has only her. He envies her energy. She suggests that he find other work. Kanji decides he can do something and goes back to work. He takes the petition to public works.

Five months later Kanji died. At his funeral men say that Kanji was responsible for the park and went there to freeze to death. Some say that Kanji did not build the park. The petitioning women come in to grieve and cry. The men bow, and they all sit closer. They talk about what Kanji did. Saito (Minosuke Yamada) says that Kanji knew he had cancer, but Mitsuo denies that.

They recall how Kanji persisted to get the park built. Kanji goes with the women to the deputy mayor, and he asks him to reconsider. During construction Kanji collapses and is given water. Kanji goes to those who want to build a tavern.

The men discuss whether Kanji knew he had cancer. One recalls when Kanji said he does not have time to be angry. The men get drunk and admit they would not do what Kanji did. They realize that they waste time. A policeman brings Kanji’s hat from the park and prays. He says he met Kanji last night at the park and that he looked happy. On a swing Kanji sings a love song. Mitsuo tells his wife that he found Kanji’s bank book and that he knew he had cancer.

The men resolve to work for the public good. The bureaucrats go back to their routine, and children play in the park.

         This drama portrays modern bureaucrats who stay within their limited routine while they send people to other offices. One dying man realizes he has been dead for thirty years and comes alive before he dies to help people get what they need. His example shows others what caring and perseverance can accomplish.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index