6.9/10
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1 user 6 critic

A Will for the Woods (2014)

Determined that his last act will be a gift to the planet, a man prepares for his own green burial.

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What if our last act could be a gift to the planet? Musician, psychiatrist, and folk dancer Clark Wang prepares for his own green burial in this immersive documentary. While battling lymphoma, Clark has discovered a burgeoning movement that uses burial to conserve and restore natural areas, forgoing contemporary funeral practices that operate at the ecosystem's expense. Boldly facing his mortality, Clark and his partner Jane have become passionate about green burial, compelled by both the environmental benefits and the idea that one can remain within the cycle of life, rather than being cut off from it. The spirited pair have inspired a compassionate local cemeterian, and together they aim to use green burial to save a North Carolina woods from being clear-cut. Making the most of the time that he has, Clark finds joy in his music and dance, connection with his friends and family, and great comfort in the knowledge that his death, whenever it happens, will be a force for regeneration. ... Written by Amy Browne, Jeremy Kaplan, Tony Hale, and Brian Wilson

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Documentary | Drama

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15 August 2014 (USA)  »

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More than just an environmental message
28 January 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There are two conversations in A Will For The Woods that can be considered. One is the idea of the green burial, an act of laying to rest the deceased that eschews the use of traditional burial methods for the sake of the earth. The second, however, is a much harder conversation about mortality, the inevitability of death, and the power that a peaceful, meaningful burial has on one particular individual. The filmmakers of A Will For The Woods build their documentary for the former and end up leaping into the heart of the latter.

The film follows Clark Wang as he prepares for an inevitably untimely demise and the depth of meaning he finds in his inevitable green burial. What works as an exploration into an environmentally beneficial method of laying to rest becomes a journey with Clark into the kind of person he is and, more importantly, what he leaves behind - both in life and in death.

It is oftentimes difficult to stay as close and as intimate to Clark as the filmmakers do, but there's no question as to the potency of its emotional core: a genuine desire to bear the weight of death with a final meaningful act. It can be much to bear in one sitting, but A Will For The Woods cares deeply for the man it follows, and the depths in which we come to know, understand, and feel for Clark are powerful.


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