June 23rd, 2004

The EBBUUNT

Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian says that the Bushes and the Clintons are turning into dynasties. Look forward to Jeb Bush v Hilary Clinton in 2008, and George P Bush v Chelsea Clinton somewhere further down the line.

I don't think so. Political prophecy always ignores (because it has to) the EBBUUNT- (the Enormously Big But Utterly Unpredictable New Thing). Just because there are no very exciting alternatives around at the moment doesn't mean there never will be. Freedland's prophecy depends on no new talent or force emerging in American politics for the next twenty or thirty years. It also depends on there being no paradigm changing catastrophes, cataclysms or happy accidents.

I can remember when the Kennedys were seen as a dynasty that would last forever. There would be three President Kennedys- one after the other. Why, Nostradamus himself predicted it. And then the next generation would start kicking in.

Hasn't exactly worked out that way, now has it?

Ikiru

Our first DVD of Ikiru was taken from a print missing the iconic footage of Takeshi Shimura sitting on the swing. Presumably some projectionist had snipped it out and kept it as a trophy. Also it had gobbledy-gook subtitles that rendered stretches of the action unintelligible.

Even so it looked like a masterpiece.

Our new copy is the BFI edition. It's taken from a faded, battered- but complete print. Now I know who the bohemian in the black hat is, and what the fluffy bunny signifies, and what's going on in the office politics at the funeral.

Kurosawa's greatest movies are like houses- huge sprawling houses. You can inhabit them.

There are resemblances between Ikiru and Citizen Kane. Some of the same questions are asked,. "What gives life meaning?" "How can we ever know what makes another person tick?" even "What is truth?" The difference is that Ikiru has heart.