#ReLook: "After Life" by Hirokazu Koreeda

PLOT: "After Life is set in a waystation where the souls of the recently deceased are processed before entering heaven. "Heaven," for the film, is a single happy memory from one's life, re-experienced for eternity.

The movie is set in a building resembling a decrepit government social services institution. Every Monday, a new group of recently deceased people check in, and the "social workers" in the lodge explain to each guest their situation. The newly-dead have until Wednesday to identify the single happiest memory. For the rest of the week, the workers at the institution work to design and replicate each person's chosen memory, thereby replicating the single happiest moment of that person's life. This moment 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 unknown state of existence lies beyond and takes only that single memory with them."

"After Life, known in Japan as Wonderful Life (ワンダフルライフ Wandafuru Raifu?), is a 1998 film by Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda ("Nobody Knows", "Air Doll"). I had the opportunity to view in an a local film festival, and even managed to purchase a VCD of the Japanese language film (with English subs) afters, but had never found the DVD for this (or maybe I should try harder) even till now.

I had such a fondness for the film, the concept with which resonates extremely deep within me. The notion of "memory" is very dear to me personally, and as well this film came at a time in my life where I had felt "cinema" and filmmaking WAS my "life" … and while a career change has since quelled this perception, I remain enamored with this film nevertheless.

(Above: The filmmakers and "councilors" are likened to "angels" in the film / still via thepasswordisswordfish.com)

Often the words I had used to describe film were "thought provoking". The lull and "normality" presented in the proceedings, make the notion more impactful and meaningful, without the prerequisite special effects and visual pomps, with which were nonexistent in this film.

Instead, the said "movie magic" was provided for by the "angel filmmakers" in the film studio, whom recreated the scenes from the deceased memories, first described in detail at their "entrance interview" at the beginning of the film.

I had decided to take a re-look at this film, because I am currently introducing the anime "Death Parade" (on my #INotOtaku blog) - which shares a somewhat similar story device.

Shown below is a video in Japanese audio with no English subs, and I remain hopeful one day I could find said-DVD and re-watch the film all over again, which ironically remains in my mindscape, as a beautiful memory …