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Thursday, March 8, 2012

“Departures” – Movie Review

Jessie Chen & Wendy Chang
Imagine the day a family member or close friend leaves us forever. Even though it is hard to accept the truth, we still have to say goodbye to them. The Japanese film “Departures,” which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2009, tells such a story and takes a closer look at family relationships.
Official movie poster
In the movie, Masahiro Motoki plays the leading role, Daigo Kobayashi, who is a cellist in an orchestra. Unfortunately, the orchestra suddenly dissolves, so Daigo decides to apply for a job posted in the newspapers.  This job was posted by “Departures” company. Daigo applies for the job and gets it. Daigo thinks the company is a travel agency, but, in fact, the company is an undertaker’s.  The company prepares people to depart from this world. Because he is embarrassed, Daigo hesitates about taking this job in the beginning. After his boss constantly encourages him, Daigo is willing to accept this job and work hard. Because he is now an undertaker, Daigo’s relationships with his wife and relatives change. However, Daigo insists on keeping this job and providing service for those people who really need it.

“Departures” really moved me. It is a movie that not only talks about life and death, but also about relationships. After Daigo becomes an undertaker, his wife and friends disdain him. Daigo feels frustrated and confused about his future, because his family and friends don’t approve of his job. While he is the undertaker’s assistant, Daigo finally finds his destiny and makes his wife and friends understand his job. When his wife finally calls Daigo by his job title, he becomes a real undertaker. This was my favorite scene; it touched me deeply and is the main reason why I enjoyed “Departures” so much.

The soundtrack was an important element in this movie. Because of the music, I was able to know what Daigo was feeling. When the background music was sad and intense, I knew that Daigo was under a cloud. When the music became peaceful, I knew he was feeling very calm. In the movie, Daigo releases his feelings by playing his cello, and we can understand his mood by the music he plays.  The wonderful music was the second reason why I enjoyed “Departures.”

Daigo’s boss tells him that, “Death is not the end but the gate to a next stage.” This is my favorite sentence in the whole film and it comforts my heart. By watching this movie, I understood that cherishing the people around us makes our life more meaningful. “Departures” is a wonderful movie with an attractive story and touching soundtracks.  “Departures” doesn’t just entertain us, it teaches us about life.

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