Departures (2008)

Departures (2008) Trailer


For a movie which talks about deaths and funerals… it’s surprising how they could make it half comedy!

This is the first time I’ve been exposed to the Japanese funeral service and wow! It’s so different from the Chinese and so fascinating as well! The first thing which I noticed was the fact that everyone (including children) were seated facing the corpse while the funeral workers cleaned the body, cleaned the face, put make-up on the face, and changed the clothes of the corpse. It was amazing how this was done in front of the people and yet no part of the naked corpse was revealed during the process.

The entire process is like a form of art. The funeral workers handled the body with gentleness, respect and no fear whatsoever. In my opinion, it is certainly a beautiful way of ‘sending someone off’.  I also find it interesting how the Japanese are so concerned with beauty both in life (fashion, food, art etc.) and in death (make-up the corpse to be the ‘prettiest’ they’ve been their whole life). I actually like the way they conduct their funeral service.

Considering how respectful the Japanese are toward the dead, it is funny how the funeral workers are looked down upon by the society.  Apparently, it is not ‘a proper job’ in the eyes of many and a stigma is attached to the job. However, one possible reason why people’s attitude toward the job is so negative is because they do not understand the meaning behind it. For example, Daigo’s wife, Mika, wanted to leave him because of his affiliations with such a ‘shameful’ occupation. This showed how negatively the profession was viewed by others that even a wife would consider leaving her husband.

However, when Mika had the opportunity to follow Daigo in one of the funeral services, her perception changed and she was more willing to accept her husband’s decision to continue in his profession. Therefore, this film implies that with more exposure to this profession, people will be more understandable and accepting toward those who work in this field…and I think, which is what the film is trying to do.

In regards to the psychological theory relating to death is Kubler Ross’s Five Stages of Grief.

Five Stages of Grief

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

For a simple animated illustration of the Stages of Grief, please click on the following link:

P.S. Story: A Giraffe fell into quicksand

For more information about the Stages of Grief à


For a movie which talks about deaths and funerals… it’s surprising how they could make it half comedy! So if you think it’s going to be morbid and sad just because it deals with death, think again! I would surely recommend this movie to everyone! Both the young and the old.

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