I Live in Fear

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I Live in Fear
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 date
  • 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 he is brought before a three-man tribunal, including Dr. Harada (Takashi Shimura), a Domestic Court counselor, for arbitration. Harada, a civil volunteer in the case, sympathizes with Nakajima's conviction. He points out that the fear of atomic and nuclear weapons is present in every citizen of Japan, and wonders aloud whether it is wrong to rule someone incompetent simply for being more worried than the average citizen. Eventually, the old man's irrational behavior prevents the court from taking his fears seriously, and he is found incompetent. Nakajima grows more and more obsessed with the idea of escaping Japan, eventually resulting in a tragic decision, once he is convinced it is the only way to save his loved ones. The film ends with the doctor pondering whether it may be more insane to ignore the nuclear threat than to take it too seriously.


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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