After Life: The Film

Our friends in Fort Smith lent us a DVD while we were there the beginning of this month.  We watched it a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

The film, After Life (which is in Japanese, with English subtitles), from director Hirokazu Koreeda, is a story in which people who have just died find themselves in a transfer station for processing into heaven.  Each soul is given just a few days to select a single memory from his or her life, which will be staged and filmed by the workers at the transfer station.  Upon watching his own personal film, the individual moves along to the next stage of existence, to relive that single memory for eternity.

The conflicts and solutions in the film are what give it substance, and I won’t give them away here lest anyone reading this decides to obtain and watch the film.  While the concept of heaven and an afterlife are alien to my concept of the universe, they are central to the success of the film, and it is a successful film.

The “happiest moment” is not, in every case, truly the happiest moment. Rather, the happiest moment may be that moment at which the future happiness of another is assured.

And so, with that as a backdrop, I tried to identify which moment I might choose, if that unlikely situation were presented to me. I came to the realization that, for me at least, it would be an impossibility.  Ultimately, it would be a toss-up among dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands of happy memories.  And, in the final analysis, the toss-up would result in experiencing purgatory (or something like it).

A more palatable end-game is the one I believe is real, yet never to be sought after: the light is simply switched off, never to be lit again.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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