Members of a cult, modeled on Aum Shinrikyo, sabotage a city's water supply, then commit mass suicide near the shores of a lake. Family members of those affected by it meet at the lake to observe the anniversary of their loved ones' deaths.
Twelve-year-old Koichi, who has been separated from his brother Ryunosuke due to his parents' divorce, hears a rumor that the new bullet trains will precipitate a wish-granting miracle when they pass each other at top speed.
Ryota is a successful workaholic businessman. When he learns that his biological son was switched with another boy after birth, he faces the difficult decision to choose his true son or the boy he and his wife have raised as their own.
This documentary follows the life of a man who has a disability which prevents him from forming new memories. The vital importance of human memory is revealed through his daily interactions with his family and the filmmakers.
An elementary school in Japan begins an experimental program that frames the students' curriculum around one single project: the raising of a calf from adolescence to adulthood. Through ... See full summary »
A small mid-20th century social-service-style office is a waystation for the souls of the recently deceased, where they are processed before entering their personal heaven - a single happy memory re-experienced for eternity. Every Monday, a new group of recently deceased people check in, and the "social workers" in the lodge explain their situation. Once the newly-dead have identified their happiest memories, workers design and replicate each person's chosen memory, which is staged and filmed. At the end of the week, the recently deceased watch the films of their recreated happiest memories in a screening room. As soon as each person sees his or her own memory, he or she vanishes to whatever state of existence lies beyond and takes only that single memory with them. The story pays most attention to two of the "counselors," Takashi (Arata) and Shiori (Oda). Takashi has been assigned to help an old man, Ichiro (played by Naito Taketoshi), select his memory. Reviewing videotape of ...Written by
What is the happiest moment of your life? If you had to pick one moment, one memory to keep with you and the rest were going to be erased what would it be? This is the central question of Afterlife a film about life, memory, happiness, movie making, and only in tangent, death. A group of dead people arrive at a dilapidated building where they are told to select a single memory that they will dwell in for all eternity. Heaven as it turns out is only a memory. The film is mostly these people talking directly into the camera documentary style reflecting on what was most important to them.
I recently told a friend about this movie, who told me it sounded "corny", and if the film had only been about these people I, might agree. I told my friend that I liked the film because while watching it I reflected on my entire life, and what happiness had meant to me during it. I was almost shocked and a little saddened by how quickly I came to realize what my moment was, like the movie as a whole it leaves a bittersweet taste. My friend told me they didn't think about their life that way, and that it would be too depressing to do so. I told her that someone in the movie says that too, and what made the movie as a whole so good and not just a clever concept was how honest it was about the complications between notions of a meaningful life, nostalgia, and personal happiness.
The dead have a half a week to choose which memory they want and the rest of the week is spent filming the memories in a sound studio. The screening at the end of the week is to be their moment of "ascension". Though silent at first the "counselors" shooting these memory-movies are not separate from the process, they too are dead. Takashi and his trainee Shiori we see handle most of the cases.
Afterlife despite its title is not a film about death, but about memory and self-reflection. Two characters become problematic early on, one an old man who says he cant remember his life clearly enough to choose a specific moment, the other a young man who refuses to chose a moment, insisting it would be "avoiding responsibility for his life" and a surrender to empty nostalgia. Takashi becomes interested in the old man's case(for personal reasons we discover later), and has the man's life sent to him on videotape so that he may observe and report, in a quieter variation on Albert Brook's "Defending Your Life" (a conceptual cousin to Afterlife).
Afterlife is about producing films that capture only a single moment and that only have meaning to single person; films that will only be screened once, but will be remembered literally forever. They are so personal as to be inconsequential to anyone but their intended viewer, but I couldn't think of a more meaningful type of film to make both for an audience and their creators. I think this is why many people watch films, at times to identify and at others to connect with what is unidentifiable.
Russian silent film director Aleksandr Medvedkin used to travel the USSR on a train stopping at random villages and asking the people what their problems, issues, and concerns were and then asked for their assistance in making a film about just that. Doing this Medvedkin wanted to give cinema to the masses. The world of Afterlife likewise gives cinema to the individual.
There are sprinklings of melodrama in the film towards the end, but they allow the characters to actually reach important conclusions that the film wouldn't have been able to connect together otherwise. Even if you can't remember your own moment, isn't it possible that you are an extra or a main character in someone else's, and nothing as dramatic as some old flame pining over you, but maybe a moment spent with a friend or a family member. Maybe your parent's happiest moment was when you were born. It's only from an imaginary position like an Afterlife that we have the distance to reflect on such grand feelings intimately and sincerely.
Since were not dead, this question can be written off as sophomoric or corny, our best days may in fact still be ahead. But I wonder if without some prior sense of what is truly beautiful, meaningful, and warm fuzziness incarnate whether we can know true bliss when we finally see it. This is assuming it's something you can even know when you see it, and not something that only occurs with memory. I was once told in a Sunday Sermon, happiness is predicated on happenings and events, but joy was something internal that had little relation to the outside world. Personally I think real happiness is created when memories generate joy that later events cannot soil or touch.
The only objections I could reasonably see are often spoken by the characters themselves, particularly the young man, who thinks the entire system is flawed; what do they do if a baby dies for instance? My own moment (and no I will not tell you nor anyone else) was actually quite "corny", in fact it was the first time in my life I realized why a certain kind of sentimentality existed. This movie is sentimental for sure, but it's definitely sincere. If we get lucky in this universe and there is an Afterlife, we would all be very fortunate to find ourselves in a movie theaters like these with kind hearted counselors to help us grieve for and accept our lives, and if there isn't well at least there's still movies like Afterlife; things worth seeing, things worth talking about, and things worth sharing with each other.
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