Monday, September 22, 2008

Wandâfuru raifu (1998) aka After Life

What is the one memory you would take with you?

This unpretentious, endearing film is a modest triumph. Based on interviews with more than 500 people about the one memory they would choose to take with them to heaven, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda has modeled a unique blend of documentary and fiction that addresses the vagaries of memory but also what it means to make films. After Life transpires in a sort of way station where the dead must select one memory to be re-created on film and taken on with them forever, relinquishing everything else. Over the span of a week, a dedicated group of caseworkers tease out self-deceptions as well as real epiphanies from 22 different lives. An old woman remembers reuniting with her husband on a crowded bridge after World War II; a man recollects the breeze felt on a tram ride the day before summer vacation; a successful man faces his own treachery. Remembering becomes a courageous act in the casual exposition of this lovely film. --Fionn Meade

Wandafuru Raifu is set at a way station between Heaven and Earth. There, guides have less than a week to help the newly dead sift through their memories for one defining moment to take with them to Heaven.

As the film discovers, finding a life's worth of meaning in a single event is no simple task. Interactions between the soul-searching dead and their dedicated guides explore the range of human experience. The film centers on the grudging respect that develops between Watanabe, an undistinguished old man, coming to terms with his uneventful life, and Mochizuki, the young guide assigned to help him.

Wandafuru Raifu draws on the recollections of hundreds of elderly Japanese, some of whom join the cast of the film. Their stories reveal not only their personal pleasures and horrors, but also the broader history of postwar Japan. By portraying characters struggling to come to terms with the past, the film explores our attachment to life - bursting with pride and falsehood, pain, and pleasure - and, most importantly, to love.


1 comment:

  1. i loved this movie, i watched it once in my friend's house and trying to find the dvd :)


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