DVD: Departures

DVD: Departures

This Japanese film (I watched it with English subtitles) won the Oscar for best Foreign Language film in 2009. It tells the story of a cellist with a troubled family past who – when his orchestra is dissolved – returns to his home in a beautiful mountain-backed part of Japan. When he answers an ad working with “departures”, he finds himself working in a very odd role indeed.

The subtitles are great at this point – his role is an “encoffineer” – someone who works in the ritual of preparing bodies for cremation (more details about working as a nokanshi).

The film shows a lot of stories about the grieving of various families, and does it in a compelling way. There are moments of dark (and not so dark) humour, beautiful cinematography, great scenery and shows of the seasons. It’s a good film for reflecting on both life and death, and attitudes to both, as well as thinking about how different generations relate together.

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