This was one of the toughest weeks yet. I dug around forever trying to find a movie that I felt truly personified loss. I probably watched 10 different films before I found this little gem. Once I finished watching “Departures” I knew without a doubt that this was the one for me. This is such a beautiful film that was well deserving of its Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Our story revolves around Daigo Kobayashi, a man living his dream of playing cello in a professional orchestra. His dreams are shattered and his whole life is brought into question when the orchestra is suddenly shut down. He and his wife decide to move back to his hometown to live in his deceased mothers house. Daigo is in search of a job to support his wife when he reads an advertisement in the paper for what he thinks is a travel agency job. He quickly finds out this is not the case. Daigo has agreed to take a job as an NK agent, which is somewhat of a mortician. He is very pensive about this job at first, but over time begins to truly appreciate what they do. It is so much more than just preparing a body for a funeral. These agents help the family cope with their loss by letting them watch the final preparations of their loved ones. The tradition and love involved in this job is mesmerizing. While friends and family despise this job the people they help love them without question. This final ritual is exactly what these families need to see their loved ones into the afterlife.
I have to say, this movie is absolutely beautiful. The relationships, the scenery, the music, it all fits together so well. It is so amazing to see how big traditions are in this culture. The amount of reverence and respect for the dead is almost a complete 180 from our western culture. It is very touching to see how this movie deals with this. Daigo is a character I feel most people can feel for in one way or another. A man whose dream is shattered and is forced into a career that he doesn’t even want to do. Like most he slowly adapts to his life changes and even grows to enjoy them. That is human existence really. We adapt to our surroundings and do what we have to to survive. We even try to carve out a little joy through these trials. I think that is what tis film conveys pretty well. Whether we deal with the loss of our hopes and dreams or the loss of people we love, the human spirit always finds a way to shine through. Life is beautiful and most would do well to remember that. I hope you all enjoy this one!