Oct 11, 2009

Okuribito (Departures): A Review

I watched this movie more than a month ago but just now I felt like writing about it. Anyway, here is my view about the movie:

Departures (2008)
"The Gift of the last memories"

Seeing an 8 plus rating on IMDB had already piqued my interest to watch this movie. Oscar award for best foreign language picture turned it into a must see! And I must say I wasn’t disappointed by the movie. I was exhilarated to watch one of the most beautiful movies about the beauty of human life and not only life but the death itself as well. Very few films I have seen from any film maker or any film culture which show such reverence for the life and DEATH of ordinary people. Directed by Yōjirō Takita, this 2008 Japanese film took ten years in making and was loosely based on Aoki Shinmon's autobiographical book Coffinman: The Journal of a Buddhist Mortician.

“Departures” follows Daigo Kobayashi, a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and who is suddenly left without a job. Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled “Departures” thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a "Nokanshi" or "encoffineer," a funeral professional who decorates and prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo who despised the job at first slowly begins to take a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of Nokanshi, acting as a 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.

I absolutely loved the movie! Contemplation about death and afterlife makes the viewers to show, a kind of appreciation towards life…even if the life belongs to an absolutely ordinary person. Besides these I also loved the way the movie depicts how Daigo overcomes his grudge and forgives his father. Maybe if we are able to forget the nuisances, overcome grudges and are able to forgive the people who have hurt us, we will begin to appreciate life more.

And not to forget, the great soundtrack of the movie! Joe Hisaishi does magic with his works. “Memory” was absolutely amazing! I hope someday it will find a place among the IMDB's top 250 movies!

Finally, a word of caution: many of the main stream movie viewers might find the movie boring given the fact that it’s a movie that contemplates about the evergreen existential issues!

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