Films are expected to reflect the reality. Nevertheless, given the fact that they are created by people, it is possible that this representation of reality will be flawed, often excluding some elements and emphasising others. As a result, the problem is representation should be carefully examined since systematic exclusion often results in negative consequences. This blog will example Departures (2008), analysing how this film represents the Japanese culture and death.
To begin with, it is worth pointing out that the film in question focuses on the social group that has been traditionally underprivileged – the morticians. Parmaggiore suggests that it is essential to make sure that a certain minority within the population is represented on the screen from time to time to let the rest of the people see the society from their perspective, thus facilitating the much-needed dialogue.
In addition to that, the film also explores various stereotypes that are associated with death and people how to work with it. According to Dyer, stereotypes are rigid concepts that people use in the absence of real experience. So, the film shows how the protagonist is stigmatised by the relatives and friends in the beginning. However, he is later respected.
Departures (2008) uncovers various issues that exist in the Japanese society, but are not known to the foreigners. In addition to that, it provides a philosophical commentary on the value of death, suggesting that it allows people to rediscover their humanity by carefully handling the corpse and reflecting on the brevity of life.