Thursday, March 26, 2009

Departures - A Movie Not to Be Missed!

"Have you seen the movie, Departures?", my violin teacher, Mr. Yan asked me.

"Yes, and I laughed and cried so much!", I said. "Great movie!"

Both my tenants, Avinesh and Jasmin, were full of praise after watching the movie and Jasmin thought it was even better than Slum Dog Millionaire! "A movie that everyone must watch!", Jasmin declared.

Departures, a 2008 Japanese film by Yojiro Takita, had won rave reviews, and had clinched the Academy Award for best foreign language film at the 2009 Oscars and has already earned $53,582,846 in Japan alone as of 22nd March 2009.

Daigo Kobayashi, a cellist in an orchestra, soon lost his job after the orchestra dissolved. Saddled with a debt of 18 million yen for his cello, he decided to dispose it and to go back to his hometown, Sakata, Yamagata. His wife supported his idea, for at least they could stay in the house left behind by Daigo's mother. Daigo was attracted to an advertisement and applied for the job, thinking it was related to tourism. He only found out that NK Agency meant encoffinment. He was hired immediately on the spot by the boss who immediately took a liking to him. As he was cash strapped, he accepted the job but dared not tell his wife the truth. It was tough for him as his first assignment was handling a deceased old lady who had died two weeks without being discovered. Daigo threw out at the grisly sight and smell. However, as he handled more and more cases, he found meaning and fulfillment in his job which others despised.

When his wife saw the video in which Daigo acted as a deceased, she was incensed and gave him the ultimatum. Daigo refused to quit and his wife returned to her home. However, a few weeks later she returned with the announcement that she was carrying his child, and asked him to quit his job. At this juncture, Daigo received news that Tsuyako, who operated the public bath had died suddenly. In front of his wife and Tsuyako's son and family, Daigo performed the encoffinment ceremony with skill and dignity. His wife gradually realised the importance and meaning of her husband's job. It was indeed fulfilling when the deceased's families thanked her husband for a great job of encoffinment.

Daigo had carried a grudge against his father who left him and his mother many years ago, and when he received news about his father's death, he refused to have anything to do with him. Encouraged by his wife and colleagues, he decided to take a last look at his father. He found his father still clinging onto the smooth, white pebble which Daigo had given to him as a child. Only then did Daigo realise the truth - that his father had loved and remembered him till his death. The final part was the most could hear sniffing throughout the cinema, as Daigo performed the encoffinment ceremony for his father, with love and forgiveness in his heart.

I would highly recommend everyone to watch this movie. I remember once my pastor had mentioned that it is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of merriment, for only at departures of the deceased, are we confronted with the harsh reality of life. We are reminded at the temporal state of things and that at the end of the day what matters more is love, fogiveness, acceptance, happiness and contentment in life.

Just as a winning speech in a toastmasters contest is one that makes the audience laugh, cry and ponder over the message, it is the same with a winning movie. Departures convey a very strong message and after laughing and crying, movie goers would never be able to forget this superb movie!

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