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After Life

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After Life

After Life is a film by Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda made in 1998. It depicts a stage the deceased move through after they die but before they move forward to heaven. This stage is depicted as a semi-dilapidated institutional building, filled with old furniture and paper files. The dead are instructed that they have just passed away and need to select a memory that they can take with them into heaven. This memory will be all that their souls retain from their previous life. The memories are restaged, filmed, and then screened to the participants, after which we assume they move on into heaven.
The movie had an interesting premise, but I felt the pacing moved as slow as global warming. The imagery was sometimes appealing when it focused on the wintery environment outdoors, but being filmed entirely in a rundown government building created a somber tone that made us hope that heavenly eternity was a more appealing option. Some characters could not pick a memory or refused to, which meant for one character that he remains in this purgatory-like existence. It would be very difficult to use this film in my classroom.