Daigo Kobayashi 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. Written by
To provide realistic bodies while preventing the corpses from moving, after a lengthy casting process the crew chose extras who could lie as still as possible. For the bath house owner Tsuyako Yamashita, this was not possible owing to the need to see her alive first, and a search for a body double was unfruitful. Ultimately, the crew used digital effects to transplant a still image of the actor during the character's funeral scene, allowing for a realistic effect. See more »
[voice over narration]
When I was a child winter didn't feel so cold. It's nearly two months since I moved home from Tokyo. It's been an awkward time.
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A Beautiful and Full of Sentiments Story about Life and Death
In Tokyo, the violoncellist Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) loses his job when the sponsor dissolves his orchestra. Deigo decides to return to his hometown Yamagata with his wife Mika (Ryoko Hirosue) to live in the house that his mother, who has just passed away, left for him. While seeking a job in the newspaper, he finds an advertisement entitled Departures in the NK Agency and he schedules an interview believing it is a travel agency. However, he finds out that the position is to work in a funeral business as a sort of undertaker that prepares the corpse for cremation and the afterlife. While Mika and his friends look down on his job, Daigo feels proud with the recognition of the families of the diseased persons with his work. When the owner of the bathhouse Tsurunoyu dies, Mika finally recognizes the beauty of the artistic work of Daigo. When they are informed that his absent father has died alone in a fishing village, Daigo resolves his innermost issues with him.
The winner of Best Foreign Language Film of 2009 "Okuribito" is a touching movie with a beautiful and full of sentiments story about life and death. The idea of death as a gateway to the afterlife has been explored in many movies; but in "Okuribito" it is disclosed in an artistic and beautifully sad way, through a dramatic and respectful but never corny relationship with the families of the diseased person. This wonderful movie was awarded with thirty-one (31) wins and three (3) nominations to several film festivals, and is supported by an original screenplay based on the rich Japanese culture that brings the most different and antagonistic feelings to the viewer; magnificent direction and performances of the lead and support cast; fantastic cinematography, lighting and art direction; and a stunning and stylish music score. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "A Partida" ("The Departure")
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