Monday, July 13, 2009

"Departures" as Spiritual Movie

My 18 year old niece has been visiting. One advantage to having visitors is that they suggest things to do that would never have been on our radar screen otherwise. My niece loves all things Japanese, so she was thrilled to see that the Japanese film, Departures, opened here this past week-end. We looked up the show times, and off we went.

I'd never heard of the movie, so I had no idea what to expect (probably the best state in which to see a movie!). To my delight, it was a wonderful film. A young man needs a job, and he finds a job preparing bodies for burial. I learned a lot about Japanese rituals around the end of death, and it made me think of our own rituals. Here in the U.S., we seem in deep denial about the fact that we're all going to die, and before this happens, we're likely to experience the loss of just about everything we love. The movie was very open about the grieving of those left behind. It made me want to grab onto my husband and hold him tight. The film made me happy about all the times I made the extra effort to go see my family members.

The movie had a lot to teach the audience about savoring the current moment and about how none of us is really on this earth for very long. It also had a subplot about the loss of a father and the son's search for his place in the world. Very moving.

As a Japanese film, it obviously didn't address Christian issues directly, but these issues of love, loss, and longing transcend individual religions--or perhaps I should more accurately say that all religions must cope with these human conditions. Its themes of love and redemption weren't foreign feeling at all.

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