DVD: Ikiru: Essential Art House (Criterion)



English DVD Title (Region 1)

Ikiru: Essential Art House


Japanese (1.0 Mono)

Aspect Ratio:

143 minutes





  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (25)



By: Anthony Romero

Criterion issues Akira Kurosawa's famous Ikiru in a single disc edition. This discards the extras of the previous two disc set, but retains the same video and audio track. It does come with a new menu, though, that is specific to this release.

 Video: Star Rating

The video track features quite a bit of print damage. This includes a lot of scratches, some of which stretch the length of the frame and stay there for long spans of time. It never gets so bad that it ruins a scene, but it's enough that it's very noticeable. Light shimmering also appears on the sides of the frame for most of the movie up until the author shows up. While the shimmering does go away, the scratches never lighten up, even being very present at the very end with the famous swing scene. In terms of the brightness level, it's okay, although the film is devoid of any true blacks. The movie also looks soft, lacking vivid details due to the shape of the print more so than the level of compression. The only defense of this is that the film is quite old, which does excuse the print damage to some degree.

Ikiru is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1.


 Audio: Star Rating

Sadly, the audio quality leaves much to be desired. The disc contains one audio track, the original Japanese one. The presentation here is okay for the softer moments of the film, but the bad shape of the audio track is overt when the volume reaches a certain level. This is very obvious right from the start, Fumio Hayasaka's opening tune sounds very harsh with lost details. During Kanji Watanabe's adventures with the author, taking them to various nightclubs with loud music, the audio is also very harsh to the ear. It's unfortunate, and due to the movie's age, and a restoration effort is needed badly.

The movie can be accompanied by removable English subtitles.


 Extras: Star Rating

Being part of Criterion's "Essential Art House" line, this means the disc has no extras. It has a new menu, different from the previous two disc release, but none of the supplemental material found on the other Criterion releases of this film are present.


 Overview: Star Rating

Bottom line, if you are looking to get Ikiru at a cheaper price point, this might serve as an option. Criterion titles normally run for a premium, though, so cheaper is the key word as it's liable to cost around $15. That was a steal versus the original $30 cost of the two disc DVD set, but that has come down in price to around $22 these days while the Blu-ray goes for $28. Overall, I would advise going for the Blu-ray edition. It's got not only the extras, but the restoration efforts give a much better video presentation while the audio restoration also helps, although it's not flawless there.