No, it’s not a top ten list of my favorite movies (although I did do that once already), but it is a list of movies that either I have seen on the subject of death or keep intending to buy. You may recognize one or two, and maybe you have one of your own to share?
Gates of Heaven (1978) documentary about the pet cemetery business has got to be on the top of my list. Of course, it has pets in it right? But don’t just take my word for it, it was recently reviewed on NPR and it sounds just lovely. I haven’t seen it yet but it sounds like a keeper so it’s on my next amazon splurge.
After spending some time in Japan, the movie Afterlife (1998) hit me in places both familiar and unfamiliar. If you had just ONE memory to keep, which one would it be? A very hard question to answer for someone otherwise focused on capturing personal histories. The style of this movie is absolutely beautiful. Very poetic mixure of east and west.
A classic probably most have seen but still holds up is The Loved One (1965). A very black comedy and I love the tag line, “The motion picture with something to offend everyone.” Seeing this movie and the related classic, Harold and Maude (1971) in my youth probably most affected the way I see funerals today and why I think having a sense of humor about it all is the most poignent approach to death I can think of.
And along those lines is the curious The Young and the Dead (2000). Another well done documentary about the death business and the changing roles of cemeteries. You don’t know whether to smile or cringe when confronted with so much nostalgia and that actually encapsulates the feelings most people have about how they’ll be remembered.
The Hours (2002) was one of those movies that had me pushed way back in my seat in the theatre and had me exhausted by the end. It deals with depression and suicide as an end to life from the lives of three different women in three different ages. Powerful stuff and not all that easy to watch but these actresses are all so outstanding it is like having your own out of body experience. For me the exchanges between Ed Harris and Meryl Streep will remain long after the film was over.
Although I haven’t seen it and it did get bad reviews I’m going to list it here anyway and see if anyone else has any opinions. The Fountain (2006) was supposed to deal with the themes of death and spirituality. Seems that people either love it or hate it so I’ll have to see it when it comes out on DVD which should be soon. From what I’ve read if you can try not to be too literal you’ll probably enjoy it.
And then there’s the stuff that’s online. Here is one for kids (and adults) written by a grief counselor and done in computer animation called “Bunny” that handles the subject matter well and is being used to introduce end of life concepts to children and in college level death and dying courses. (Seven mins.) Tom Waits voice at the end is just perfect.
I made a few of you sniffle with this other music video off YouTube from DCFC called “I will follow you into the dark.” It’s a keeper that just couldn’t be left out. Bunnies must be some after world totem animal. All that following them down rabbit holes all our lives must be the reason.