If I discount Bollywood as World Cinema for now, then I would have to go back as far as some of the Hal Hartley movies, when I last saw something of a similar genre.
While scanning earlier this week I came across this movie, Departures. It’s a Japanese movie and when I read the synopsis, it sounded very interesting. In a nutshell, the movie centres around a failed musician who moves back to his home town and by fate ends up working in a funeral parlour. The movie shows us how the main character, Daigo Kobayashi, played by Masahiro Motoki, comes to terms with his new responsibilities and how those around him adjust to his job.
There are three things that struck me about this movie:
- The very calm essence played throughout this movie, it’s very subtle, delicate, some of the characters have an almost soft as tissue personality; it kind of draws you in.
- It shows you the Japanese culture in respect of dressing the dead for their funeral, the precise accuracy merged with sublime delicacy, as not to upset the family members by moving too rashly.
- The movie shows how mourning family members sit still, motionless while the funeral professionals are dressing the deceased, which includes applying full facial make-up. When the family finally see the end result, the still emotion breaks free and the mourners cannot contain themselves. Such is the creative work of the professionals that the body seems no longer dead, but someone alive who just won’t wake up or respond. There is a scene in the movie where a grieving husband turns to the funeral professionals and says, “this is the best I have seen her look”.
I have included a trailer from the movie, if it tickles your fancy, please get it, I would recommend it.