Ikiru / Record of a Living Being / The Lower Depths
International Title
 Ikiru / I Live in Fear / The Lower Depths
Music By: Fumio Hayasaka
Record Label: Toho Music
Running Time: 47:43 Discs: 1
Release: November 2001 CD Number: AK-0002
Anthony Romero
First, thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this in for review!

This disc, sold as part of the Film Music of Akira Kurosawa the Complete Edition 1 box set and by itself, covers the soundtrack for the 1952 movie Ikiru. As backup material, to roundout the runtime, the scores for I Live in Fear and Lower Depths are also included. All three soundtracks are done in the 1950's, and haven't aged particularly well or make for all that compelling stand alone experiences.

The main attraction on this disc is the score for Ikiru, which is short at under 25 minutes but still accounts for about half of the music on this disc. The soundtacks starts with two rousing tracks, "Titles" and "Petition Rotation", before becoming more subdued and sometimes eerie to fit the movie material. "Reminiscing 1" is also a good theme, covering that slight sense of disappointment and at the same time remorse that the scene in the movie requires. However, it's repeated here five times back-to-back with very little change between the cues. "The Gondola Song", both Park and Cafe, don't make for all that compelling music removed from the movie either. In the film, they were tragic and powerful taken in context, but alone their impact is diminished and the audio quality is subpar on both, likely taken straight from the movie source itself.

As for the bonus content, the original tracks for "Waiting Room Omen" and "Diagnosis" are included before they were slowed down to better fit the movie scenes. There is also an alternate take of "What Can I Do", which is itself a variant of the Happy Birthday song.

By coincidence or intent, the last two scores are a story in themselves in terms of creation. I Live in Fear was the last score by composer Fumio Hayasaka before his untimely passing at just 41. At the time of his death, the soundtrack was unfinished and was completed by his student, Masaru Sato, who would become Akira Kurosawa's composer of choice by 1957 starting with Throne of Blood (1957) and The Lower Depths. Now the score for I Live in Fear, despite its subject matter, is somewhat lively. It captures the big band feel that Sato was fond of, featuring a few great club themes like "Duck Mambo" and "Slow Rumba". Sadly, the main title is a little dull and played out across the "Titles", "End Titles" and the "Preview Main Theme" (Trailer Music) tracks here, while the rest of the club music fails to capture the imagination. That leaves the last four tracks for The Lower Depths, which can be summed up as two pieces of music that are slow and plodding alongside two fairly annoying source music songs by the main cast that long outstay their welcome.

Overall, while Ikiru and its partners are good to great films, their soundtacks aren't the most engaging. Consequently, this CD is something better suited to hardcore Kurosawa fans.
Rating: Star Rating
    Ikiru (1952)
  1. Titles
  2. Petition Rotation
  3. Waiting Room Omen
  4. Diagnosis
  5. Reminiscing 1
  6. Reminiscing 2
  7. Reminiscing 3
  8. Reminiscing 4
  9. Reminiscing 5
  10. Life's Ball
  11. Cafe: The Gondola Song
    By: Shinpei Nakayama
  12. Strip Show
  13. Watanabe and Toyo
  14. Going Home
  15. Mitsuo's Irritation
  16. Vacant Seat for the Citizen's Section Chief
  17. What Can I Do
    By: Mildred Hill
  18. Park: The Gondola Song
    By: Shinpei Nakayama
  19. End Titles

    Bonus Tracks
  20. Waiting Room Omen (Normal Version)
  21. Diagnosis (Normal Version)
  22. What Can I Do (Alternate Version)

    I Live in Fear (1955)
  23. Titles
  24. Late Night Guitar
  25. Slow Mambo
  26. Slow Rumba
  27. End Titles

    Bonus Tracks
  28. Preview Main Theme
  29. Star Music
  30. Mambo Melancholia
  31. Duck Mambo

    The Lower Depths (1957)
    By: Masaru Sato
  32. Titles
  33. Festive Music 1
  34. Festive Music 2
  35. End Titles