Departures (Okuribito) Trailer
I meant to post this last week, when Departures (Okuribito) got the Academy Award for Best foreign language film, but you know how it can be. This is a trailer with subtitles, thanks to Youtube. Here at Kurashi, we tend to talk a lot about the living, and while death is always just around the corner, we ignore it at our own peril.
At the temple in Okayama where I stayed 6 years ago, we had to care for the (very) old retired priest, who finally died late one night, maybe around this time of year, just after my shift to care for him had ended. The following day, I had to sit at his side (with another, much more experienced shugyosha from Seattle). Our duty was to greet visitors who wanted to say a final farewell to him, and to keep the incense sticks burning. Many people knew him as a great tea teacher. The old priest looked very peaceful. Sitting next to a dead person half a day: it wasn't as difficult as it sounds, and not strange at all. We buried him the next day, with some of the rituals seen in Departures, but with much more sutra reading.
In Europe we don't really have many opportunities to see the dead, although that may of course differ from case to case and from country to country. Open-cask funerals are the norm here, thus the need for a lot of preparations and ceremony. Seems Departures shows all this in some detail. Funerals... What a topic. I'm so glad the Oscars this year went to real-life films, like this one and Slumdog Millionairs, rather than to the usual, standard fare. We need to change our thinking about living, and perhaps this is a film that can in some small way do just that.
Directed by Yojiro Takita.
Written by Kundo Koyama.
Synopsis from IMDB.com:
Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) is a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and now finds himself 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 prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life.
While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes 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.