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
I have read many reviews on this movie and have been surprised by what I saw. I saw many reviews with comments such as this didn't deserve its Oscar win and that this movie was far from a masterpiece because it was too sentimental and exaggerated.One person proposed showing less scenes of him with the cello, speeding up the movie, and cutting out scenes with long stares. I disagree and believe that this movie is beautiful the way it is. This movie is not overbrimming with sentimentality; it has a good amount for such an emotional film. The scenes with the cello and the birds represent the passion and emotions he feel. We don't call Shakespeare's long poems sentimental so why do we call this work of Japanese art that? The more I heard the music I felt like the more I understood the movie. Western movies sometimes disregard time in movies allowing action to follow action. This movie was simply about the meaning of living knowing that we would die. The long, drawn out silences were necessary to convey emotions. If you have studied many Asian cultures, you know that they convey emotions not through words but through silence. The silences give us time to ponder and think about the questions raised, something we are often not given in bang bang action American films.As a musician, I feel like this whole movie is like song filled with much raw emotion.
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