One of the themes portrayed in the movie Okuribito (The Departure) about the Japanese’ belief about having a dead body “cleansed” before placing inside the coffin. In the film, using the different body movements the encoffiners are doing during the session, focus and passion are seen. Those movements gave the audiences a live experience on how the encoffiners give the last cleansing of the dead that gives them a peaceful departure.

The symbols/visual metaphor that are used in the movie are the cello and the stone which are both recurring in the beginning and in the end of the film (sometimes also occurs in the middle part). The cello is a significant thing, and as for me a symbol, in the main character’s life. There are two cellos in the film, the first is the cello that he bought and he used for the orchestra and the other one is the cello which he possessed since he was young. Both cellos serves as a doorway to the main character’s life. The cello which Kobayashi secretly bought for the orchestra symbolizes doorway – a doorway to the “should be” career of Kobayashi and the future of him and his wife. On the other hand, the cello which he possessed since he was young is the doorway to his past and also the doorway to his bright future. Moving to the stone, it was mentioned in the movie that rough-textured stones signifies “having concern” The smooth-texture stone signifies “having peacefulness.”  These two symbols gave the audience a visual experience that whenever these symbols happened to show it signals the audience to remember what relationship to the character they have.

The sounds used in the film that I found effective and memorable is the one the main character was playing in the middle and the latter part of the film.  This is so because it shows the ability of music to be dynamic when used in films. The first time the main character played this piece is that he feels resentful to things. The song portrays the sadness and the hopelessness in the current life of the main character. Particularly, it was mentioned in the movie that “it’s my (his) father’s favorite song” to which he has a problem with his father because he believes his father left them for another woman. On the latter part, that piece was played again but this time it already conveys something positive rather than the first one. Also additional musical instruments can also be heard making the music lively and positive. These two sounds enhanced the films capacity to give impact and Goosebumps to the audience.

Based from the elements I have observed in the film I can say that it is a good film because the used visual elements allowed the audience to experience the Japanese film portraying its culture like how the Japanese value the ritual of having the body “cleansed” (through encoffining) before being placed inside the coffin. Also the meaning of the different types of stones emphasized an important unseen theme in the film – the reason why the father gave Kobayashi a stone that is rough, as what mentioned earlier this type of stone means “having concern.” In relation to Kobayashi the stone signifies that in the latter part of the film he will “have concern” for other people and so it was, his job being an encoffiner. While on the other hand the stone which Kobayashi gave to his father is a smooth one which means “having peacefulness.” In the last part of the film it was justified specifically in the scene where Kobayashi encoffined his own father – he gave his father “peace” through encoffining.


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