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Departures – Okuribito

I know, it’s from to 2008 but better now than never, right?

A few days ago I was suggested by one of my team leaders to watch Departures (Okuribito is the original title).

We were talking about films and he noticed I love Japan and some Japanese films and he suggested me to have a look at it, describing briefly the story.

I was intrigued and I had a look at the trailer when I got home. When I discovered that the soundtrack was cured by Joe Hisaishi I decided that it was a must see. You know already my love for this man’s music!

Let me describe the film with two words: pure lyricism.

The story is very simple, a young man and his wife return to his hometown after his dream of being a cellist is shattered. Once there he finds a job as nōkanshi—a traditional Japanese ritual mortician.

Despite the simplicity of the plot, the film should be seen and followed attentively.

What attract the attention are the message intended for the watchers, the fantastic small details only a culture like the Japanese one can display and the perfect soundtrack.

It is a film that forces you to think, but only afterwards. First thing the story hits your emotions.

I cried like an idiot for the second full hour.

Okuribito is a film starting in a light and, sometimes, funny tone, but the more you go on, the more it deepens and dig into your feeling dragging out even the smallest hint of empathy you could have buried inside you.

You’re following the inner travel of a simple human being, full of passion and expectations. His predicaments are constantly accompanied by the classic and strong music of the cello.

After all, Joe Hisaishi put together a soundtrack that in my opinion is sweet, epic and respectful of the theme at the same time.

It is a masterpiece.

Without wanting to spoil the film, I want to share with you my favourite parts, who knows? I could intrigue you!

The most emotional were when Daigo, the main character, after the owner of the public bath dies and he finishes preparing her for the cremation, ties the yellow ribbon around her neck as sign of respect; when Daigo finds the little stone in his father’s hand while he’s preparing him for his last voyage.

Also I detected some philosophical parts, because as a matter of fact, there is some philosophy in it as well! They were the chat Daigo has about the salmons’ struggle going back home, up the river, even if they’re not sure to get there and mostly die in the attempt; when Daigo’s boss invite him for lunch and they talk about food, work and life.

Finally, what I find a mixture of the two is the speech the person in charge of the crematory ovens gives to the other characters during the cremation of the public bath owner.

My only advice is: watch it, it’s worth it!

Following I’ll put the trailer.

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7 thoughts on “Departures – Okuribito

  1. A great film! I guess some people might be shocked to hear that they show the dressing of dead people but it’s done in such a respectful and poetical way.

  2. I really enjoyed this film, even though I only expected to be uncomfortable because of the subject. I agree with you – it’s an emotional journey, and it’s told very well. I began the film with apprehension, but I lost it in the midst of the lyrical storytelling and multitude of cultural details. Thank you for writing on it!

  3. One of my favourite Japanese films (another is the original Shall We Dance?) with amazing and beautiful music. Even if I saw the ending coming, it still got to me.

  4. Pingback: Daydream #3 – Joe Hisaishi | Dr.Franny and Mrs.Myself

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