“Departures,” the winner of the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is an inspiring glimpse into Japan’s cultural heritage of caring for a body after death.
When a young Tokyo cellist loses his orchestra job, he and his wife move back to his hometown. He answers a classified ad entitled “Departures,” thinking it’s a travel agency only to discover that the job involves washing and casketing bodies. Daigo overcomes his initial revulsion and comes to love the reverential ceremonies, which are transformational for the families involved . . . and eventually for him and his wife.
“Departures” beautifully depicts an approach to death that could teach our culture much. It shows an option between conventional Western funeral practices and caring for our own at home. Although Daigo and his teacher wash and dress the body, they work quietly in the deceased person’s home with the family surrounding their loved one during the entire ritual. There is no embalming. Shocking, funny, and profoundly moving things happen during this process.
Anyone interested in threshold work, spiritual openings, personal transformations, or exquisite filmmaking will enjoy “Departures.” To see a trailer of the film, click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaFRCLAYEF0.