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Views & Reviews Medical Classics


BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 02 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6993
  1. Arpan K Banerjee, consultant radiologist, Heart of England Foundation NHS Trust, West Midlands, UK
  1. Arpan.banerjee{at}

Illness and death have been the subjects of many films in the past half century. One of the earliest and finest of this genre, however, must be Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 masterpiece Ikiru. The English translation of the Japanese title means “to live,” and this film is considered by many, including Kurosawa, to be his masterpiece. It is a film about a man’s quest to find meaning in his life after the stoical acceptance of his impending death from cancer. Kurosawa is rightly considered by many as one of the half a dozen giants of 20th century cinema. He is probably best known …

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