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After Life (1998)

Wandafuru raifu (original title)
Trailer
2:01 | Trailer
After death, people have just one week to choose only a memory to keep for eternity.

Director:

Hirokazu Koreeda
7 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Arata Iura Arata Iura ... Takashi Mochizuki, counselor (as Arata)
Erika Oda Erika Oda ... Shiori Satonaka, trainee counselor
Susumu Terajima Susumu Terajima ... Satoru Kawashima, counselor
Takashi Naitô Takashi Naitô ... Takuro Sugie, counselor
Kyôko Kagawa ... Kyoko Watanabe, Ichiro's Wife
Kei Tani Kei Tani ... Kennosuke Nakamura, boss
Taketoshi Naitô Taketoshi Naitô ... Ichiro Watanabe, who cannot choose his favourite experience
Tôru Yuri Tôru Yuri ... Gisuke Shoda, who talks about sex
Yûsuke Iseya ... Yusuke Iseya, who refuses to choose his experience
Sayaka Yoshino ... Kana Yoshino, talks about Disneyland
Kazuko Shirakawa Kazuko Shirakawa ... Nobuko Amano, who talks about her affair with a married man
Kôtarô Shiga Kôtarô Shiga ... Kenji Yamamoto, who wants to forget his past
Hisako Hara Hisako Hara ... Kiyo Nishimura, old lady who loves cherry blossoms
Sadao Abe Sadao Abe ... Ichiro (as young man)
Natsuo Ishidô Natsuo Ishidô ... Kyoko Watanabe as a young woman
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Storyline

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 Gaafar

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What is the one memory you would take with you?

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

17 April 1999 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

After Life See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,791, 16 May 1999

Gross USA:

$801,985

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$801,985
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Was released on DVD in France in 2010, 11 years after its 1999 theatrical release in the country. See more »

Connections

References September Affair (1950) See more »

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User Reviews

 
In Heaven...There Is A Shortage Of Chairs
9 May 2010 | by loganx-2See all my reviews

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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