Film #184: I LIVE IN FEAR: RECORD OF A LIVING BEING
I Live in Fear: Record of a Living Being
4 out of 5 stars
In this little known (and rarely praised) Akira Kurosawa film, The Master examines Fear, not the fear so often portrayed in horror films, but real fear - the fear of death, the fear of calamity befalling one’s family, the fear of Life somehow spinning out of one’s control. Mifune gives a stunning performance as Kiichi Nakajima, the patriarch of a family who, as the film opens, are all fighting for their share of the family fortune / business. Meanwhile, the father has gotten it into his head that the ever-present threat of the Atom & Hydrogen Bomb puts all of their lives in jeopardy. His solution - dissolve the family business and move somewhere safe (in this case, Brazil). Of course, his children object and make legal moves to thwart his plans. The film unspools slowly and there are no “scary” scenes to be had. Instead, we see a man who is trying to do his best for those who depend on him. Meanwhile, the family is so consumed by their own self-interests that they either can’t see the importance of what their father is doing… or simply don’t care. Again, Mifune’s portrayal is heartbreaking and utterly convincing (and this was made just one year after giving his exuberant performance in SEVEN SAMURAI). For Kurosawa fans (and fans of Japanese cinema in general), this is a must see. For all others, this is a subtle and melancholic look at how simple things can be our undoing.