“Departures,” the 2009 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film, is an inspiring glimpse into Japan’s cultural heritage of caring for a body after death. When a young cellist loses his Tokyo orchestra job, he and his wife move back to his hometown. He answers a classified ad entitled “Departures,” thinking it’s a travel agency only to discover that the job involves washing and casketing bodies. Daigo overcomes his initial horror and comes to love the reverential ceremonies, which can be transformational for the families involved . . . and eventually for him and his wife.
“Departures” beautifully depicts an approach to death that could teach our culture much. It is midway between conventional funeral practices and caring for our own at home. Although a professional washes and dresses the body, the ritual happens in the deceased person’s home with the family surrounding their loved one. There is no embalming. Shocking, funny, and profoundly moving things happen during this process.
Anyone interested in threshold work, spiritual openings, interpersonal transformations, or just exquisite filmmaking will enjoy “Departures.” It is currently playing at the Edina Landmark Theatre at 50th and France in Minneapolis. To see a trailer, click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaFRCLAYEF0
Mark your calendars: the next MN Threshold meeting is September 15, 7pm at Linda Bergh’s home, 4315 Xerxes Ave. S, Mpls. Linda’s phone: 612.927.0894.
Nancy Manahan, co-author of Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully: A Journey with Cancer and Beyond