Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Movie You Might Have Missed #60: Departures

The gift of last memories.


When the small orchestra that Daigo plays for is disbanded, he and his wife move back to his small home town to start over. Misunderstanding a job description, he finds himself being trained as an "encoffiner" to prepare corpses before their cremation. This ceremony is carried out before the families of the deceased. This puts him in an uncomfortable position since handling the dead is a taboo subject for Japanese.

By turns moving, funny, and inspirational, this is one I've thought of a lot since I saw it. As we learn the rhythm of the encoffinments we see that this ceremony is not only a sincere expression of respect for the deceased but is also healing for the mourners.

There is much more to the movie than encoffinment, although that is the spoke around which the wheel turns. Each character from the town, the encoffinments, and Daigo's life, no matter how small, is a significant part of the whole story — much as each instrument in an orchestra comes together to play a symphony. Highly recommended.

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