Departures

A beginning journey of profound discovery and growth brought about through the instrument of death.

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The opening scenes give no hint of what direction the film will take . It begins as a narrative about a young couple in financial crisis . Daigo is laid off from his orchestra , sells his highly prized cello letting go of his dream and moves with his wife to his departed mothers house in a small Japanese town . Looking for work , he answers a newspaper ad for a person dealing with departures . Thinking it is a travel agent job he finds out it is a misprint after he has already been hired and given a large cash advance by his boss . He is then taken along with Mr. Sasaki to observe the process of embalming . There are many scenes of preparation after death and each one is beautifully touching and very strange with most family members remaining quiet as they observe . I was spellbound watching . It is a ceremony of precise ritual and grace . Sometimes during this process there are emotional outbursts of truth and we can see Daigo beginning to learn tender lessons of life . In the ending several plot threads weave together so naturally … like death , and a final scene pointing out ,” they want to come home ” , is a poignant message , especially when it is spoken by the Gatekeeper .

 

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Departures won the Oscar in 2008 for best foreign language film and the musical score and cinematography are important aspects of the films beauty , especially the notes of the cello .

 

ImageThemes and Symbols

 

Life and Death

Music and Food … there is a great message of food !

 

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Salmon : natures cyclical aspects

 

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Geese :  the camera shot of fire dissolving into geese taking off is like the Phoenix returning from the ashes

 

This film is one of my favorites and an inspiration along with the death of my mother for my sculpture series .

 

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Personal note:

A young woman , far from her home , had appeared in the town as she had been recently hired as the new librarian . I noticed she was pregnant and alone and we soon became friends after spending time and secrets with each other . One day , after her asking , I happily agreed to be her birthing coach and we attended classes together . It had become a precious friendship . The day she birthed her baby daughter also birthed in me a quiet realization of an astonishing aspect of the mystery of life .

The small hospital was very busy and under staffed that morning … I delivered her baby ! I literally caught her in my hands as she entered this life just moments before the nurse came in the room . I have become a memory keeper and following is one of my dearest . That day , the scent of birth hit me like a strike of lightning but is difficult to describe . This new smell was neither pleasant nor unpleasant yet I thought of the musky earth mixed with a faint scent of a flower and I could feel its aroma like a holy garment covering me . And I was to find this exact same smell years later at the moment of death of both my husband and mother . Death and birth share the same intense scent ! I am deeply awed and comforted by this .

 

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Painting by William Blake

Dedicated , with love , to my beautiful friend Janet whose father just recently departed

7 thoughts on “Departures

  1. Oh my, Meg, I’m deeply moved and touched that you would create a special blog post just for me. I was reading everything, taking it in, and thinking that it was so interesting that you should create this, especially with my father having left so recently… then… both Rex and I saw the dedication… oh my…tears of many emotions and gratitude. Thank you so much, dear Meg. xoxo

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  2. There is a beautiful poignancy in the way you write. I don’t know what birth or death smells like but having witnessed both, intensely, up close and personal, I can relate to that feeling of being struck by thunder. For a moment, everything stopped and then life realigned itself in a way that’s difficult to explain and perhaps even futile to try to do so.

    Beautiful writing Meg 🙂

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