Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Review - Departures

Departures is a 2008 Japanese film directed by Yojiro Takita which took out a well-deserved 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. This movie is extremely powerful, emotionally gripping, and amusing, as well as beautifully shot. 
I first saw this movie with my mum back in 2008. We had heard it was good, so when it came out on DVD we were curious to know what all the fuss was about. The story follows Daigo Kobayashi, a cellist who has just landed his big break wih an orchestra when it is suddenly dissolved and he finds himself unemployed with a ridiculously expensive cello. Daigo decides to make a new start and move back to his old hometown. After arriving there, he finds a job ad entitled "Departures". He applies for the position, thinking it is with a travel agency, only to discover that the job is actually for a Nokanshi or "encoffineer", a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. 
Naturally such a job has a certain negative stigma about it, and his wife and friends advise him to quit.  However, Daigo learns from his boss and master Sasaki that the job is immensely important. It takes a special kind of person to perfect the art of the "Nokanshi," who acts as a kind of gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. 
The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living.  

Mika: What are you doing?
Daigo: This one. Here.
Mika: What?
Daigo: A stone letter.
Mika: Stone letter?
Daigo: Long ago, before writing, you'd send someone a stone that suited the way you were feeling. From its weight and touch, they'd know how you felt. From a smooth stone they might get that you were happy, or from a rough one that you were worried about them. 

Here's the trailer:

Until next time :)

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