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Departures (Okuribito)

A movie released May 29, 2009

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To live, watch it!

  • Aug 20, 2010

It took me 3 seatings to finish this movie. And, it's not because it's boring. It's because I was neither ready nor had time to see it. In short, it spanned almost 2+ years before I was truly able to appreciate this movie in its entity.

I had heard about it from a colleague way back when I was still in the office working in Singapore. I was told by a pretty old man so I didn't really seriously thought about it. Then I was emailed a link by a friend and was told I could watch it online. And I did ... try, that is. During one of those very slow day at work... I checked the link out but for some reason, the movie was slow and the broadband speed very slow too! Everyone must be so bored at work and went online to watch movie! Hence, the slow speed... anyhow, imagine 3 single factors all converged on one fine afternoon; slow business, slow movie, slow internet speed... how on earth can one appreciate such movie on such a day?! Needless to say, after some 30 mins, I lost interest. 

The next time I came across was when I was in Shanghai, I had the disc but again, I simply lost interest midway. 

The final time it's on TV few weeks ago in Hong Kong. I didn't had much to do that night and it was truly late in the night. For some reason, the dust has settled and I was able to sit through it from some 40 mins after the beginning. That's when I truly watched the movie.

In essence, it's about life and death but more about how people who are alive cope with death and also the meticulous ceremony and respect that's accorded to the dead by the Japanese. This young chap came to a small town (presumably his hometown) and began his work as a make-up artist for the dead. He had to undergo some training before he could become one. And in the process, it's pretty hilarious. However, that's not what the movie is about. The movie effectively reflects how many of us look at the dead and death through Kobayashi's wife, who thinks it's a "dirty" job. That handling corpses (that sounds horrible, don't you think? but that's how many look at the dead, especially if they are not anyone we know) is not a job you want your husband to be in. But I find it touching that they finally managed to understand and comes to term with the process... from life to death and to actually appreciate and give due respect to each person as a living being. It is quite a revealing and intelligent way to help us appreciate that in death, we appreciate life! I think that's the most profound way of thought about this movie. And I for one, had to watch it in the middle of the night to appreciate this. It is as if, in deep silence, I was then able to hear... that's the beauty of this movie.

There are a lot of tears wrenching moments in the movie, especially towards the end when Kobayashi came face to face with his dad whom he hasn't seen since he was a kid. And the way they met was when he was told his dad had passed away. And in the final hour before his dad is being buried, he personally prepared his dad's departure. I think that would be the hardest thing to do for anyone. Yet, the director did the scenes so well that it makes this a brilliant movie overall. (I'm not planning to reveal the details here, so watch it yourself so you can appreciate things from your very perspective. That's what movies are all about, imho.)

For anyone who thinks he/she is ready to face death and certainly for everyone who wants to live! A movie I finally watched in completion but possibly also a movie which completes the way I view life. There is a saying, you never know what you missed until you've seen it. And this movie beautifully depicts that! A movie that tells you how to say goodbye beautifully...

P.S. It is a +4 and not +5 rating where I'm concerned, because all in all, it is a sad movie and no matter how brilliant it is, I'm for one not into sadness. To me, movies are simply entertainment. It is not a place where I'd to think so much about life and death! ;-)

Until you're ready, don't watch it... Until you're ready, don't watch it...

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August 21, 2010
I have heard alot of good things about this film, excellent honest review.
August 21, 2010
I loved this movie! It is a sad movie but in a way it is also a tale of redemption. It was a touching reunion between father and son. Loved the wife, she was terrific in the role! Nice review!
August 21, 2010
Thanks! I think it is one movie which deals with death in a beautiful and touching manner. A brilliant movie :-)
More Departures (Okuribito) reviews
review by . August 03, 2009
posted in ASIANatomy
         Japanese films have always had the remarkable reputation of turning the simplest premise into something so full of moving emotions and sensibilities. Yojiro Takita’s multi-award winning film “DEPARTURES” (aka. Okuribito, 2008) is no different. There is a lot of excessive hype surrounding the film as it has almost nearly swept the Japanese Academy awards and has been awarded the Best Foreign film honor in the recent 2009 Oscars. No film can …
Quick Tip by . November 08, 2011
posted in ASIANatomy
Yojiro Takita's winner of best foreign film in the Academy awards. The Japanese really know how to make a film with such a depressing theme into something uplifting and yet, heart-breaking.      see full review here.               
review by . June 23, 2010
Let's not dance around words like "thought provoking" "insightful", "existential" - Okuribito isn't your typical arty-farty movie with beautiful scenes, cryptic monologues and hidden meanings; it has a certain quality that makes it a joy to watch: it's accessible.      That's right - no more staring at the screen wondering what the protagonist standing in his underpants in front of a mirror to the sound of clockwork means. Hooray!   …
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2010
posted in ASIANatomy
It was slow and humorous in the beginning, however, it turns out to be a powerful and moving experience. For those with an open mind... and if you haven't got one, try it, you might find that you're not so immune afterall ;-)
Quick Tip by . July 14, 2010
A musician learns about himself after taking a job as an encoffiner.
About the reviewer
Sharrie ()
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I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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Asian Dvd cover:

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.
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Genre: Drama
Release Date: May 29, 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 2hrs 11min

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