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I Live in Fear

I Live in Fear
File:Ikimono no kiroku poster.jpg
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Produced by Sōjirō Motoki
Written by Akira Kurosawa
Shinobu Hashimoto
Fumio Hayasaka
Hideo Oguni
Starring Toshiro Mifune
Takashi Shimura
Music by Masaru Sato
Fumio Hayasaka
Distributed by Toho Company Ltd.
Release dates
  • November 22, 1955 (1955-11-22)
Running time
103 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

I Live In Fear (生きものの記録 Ikimono no kiroku?, aka Record of a Living Being or What the Birds Knew) is a 1955 Japanese film written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. It was co-written by Shinobu Hashimoto, Fumio Hayasaka, and Hideo Oguni. The story concerned an elderly factory owner (Toshiro Mifune) so terrified of the prospect of a nuclear attack that he becomes determined to move his entire extended family (both legal and extra-marital) to what he imagines is the safety of a farm in Brazil.

The film stars Kurosawa regulars Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura. It is in black-and-white and runs 103 minutes. The film was entered into the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.[1]



Kiichi Nakajima (Toshiro Mifune), an elderly foundry owner convinced that Japan will be affected by an imminent nuclear war, resolves to move his family to safety in Brazil.[2] Nakajima's fervent wish is for his family to join him in escaping from Japan to the relative safety of South America. His family decides to have him ruled incompetent and Dr. Harada (Takashi Shimura), a Domestic Court counselor, attempts to arbitrate. Harada, a civil volunteer in the case, sympathizes with Nakajima's conviction, but the old man's irrational behavior prevents the court from taking his fears seriously.


One of the final film of this period in which Akira Kurosawa would directly address the fear of nuclear holocaust and the implications of the atom bomb. The director shows the Japanese society coming out from under that threat and World War II, but still terrorized by memories of the past and anxieties for the future. Even though it had been ten years since the U.S. military had dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945, Japanese filmmakers had avoided the subject in studio features for years. Recent events, however, such as the nuclear testing in Bikini Atoll which exposed Japanese fishermen to fallout and the radioactive rain that fell on northern provinces, compelled Kurosawa to make this powerful film.

This was the last film that composer Fumio Hayasaka worked on before dying of tuberculosis in 1955. He had been Kurosawa's close friend since 1948 and had collaborated with him on several films.


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