Stories of the Dead : Citizen Kane and Ikiru

There are two films I would love to share an opinion or two about: Citizen Kane by Orson Welles, and Ikiru by Akira Kurosawa. Both films are great cinema masterpieces and I will not able to state their influence over my life in just a few paragraphs. However, I would like to share a similarity I think they both share: Perspective.

Citizen Kane is structured as an investigation by a journalist into Kane’s life, conducted after he dies. The newspaper is not interested in finding what’s true about Kane, but only to find a new headline to boost more sales.

Ikiru shares a very similar structural style in the third section of the movie — The Wake Scene. During the wake for the protagonist, his colleagues try to figure out what causeed the dramatic change in his work ethic during the last few months of his life. Kurosawa expectly depicts human nature, for the Japanese especially, through this one single scene. It’s truly a masterpiece.

Both directors chose to use a third person point of view to tell the story of an individual from an objective perspective. Information is revealed to the audience bit by bit, through the use of flashbacks, stories related from the friends and colleagues of the protagonist. The funny thing is that, although the living seem to share sympathy for the dead, and compassion for what the protagonist has been through, it seems to me that both directors are more focused on the superficiality and selfishness of being human. It fascinates me. It also keeps me thinking about what Kurosawa’s motivation was in his life long journey of movie making. He once tried to explain the why behind all his films, saying, “Why can’t people be happier? Why can’t people be happier together?”