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After Life (Kore-Eda, 1998) DVD

aka Wandafuru raifu, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 1998


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3 Reviews // 1 List

Film Details

Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda

Produced in 1998

Main Language - Japanese with English subtitles

Countries & Regions - Asian Film, Japanese Film

MovieMail's Review

As visions of the afterlife go, this one is almost hilariously downbeat, its setting being a somewhat dilapidated school campus out of term-time. There, the weekly intake are informed officially that they have dies (‘sorry for your loss’), then told that they have three days to choose the single most meaningful memory of their lives, which will then be recreated for them in a studio, filmed and screened. After the screening, they will move on to another place, taking only this one recollection with them, all others having been erased.

In a fascinating blend of documentary and fiction (a number of the conversations were those of the actors entering into the spirit of the film and revealing special memories for the project), the newly-deceased are interviewed about their lives by guides who try to tease out their respective mental destinations. Time and again it is the small, easily overlooked moments that take on significance – a breeze through a tram window, a bell on a girl’s bag, autumn sunlight, eating rice balls in a bamboo grove. The characters too are just what you might expect in such a situation – the perenially indecisive man, a man with endless tales of sexual conquest (there appears to be one of those every week; they invariably choose another memory entirely), the youth who refuses to play along (‘your whole set-up needs re-thinking’), the old woman who sits in complete silence, living entirely in her own mind, and the man who only has bad memories who says that to be able to lose them truly would be heaven. The guides are courteous and tactful but, pleasingly, not above a bit of gossip – ‘What are they like?’ , ‘Just average’, ‘They’re the worst aren’t they?’.

The resolutely lo-fi nature of the place and its enterprise is apparent throughout and only adds to the film’s charm – this is a place of notebooks, desks, old style telephones, slide show meetings about the week’s deceased, filing cabinets and video tapes. There’s even a power cut when everytone usese their hair-dryer at the same time to look their best for filming day. Even the film department has to make ingenious use of their limited resources (cotton wool for clouds, tissue paper for cherry blossom).

For all its good humour, the film has a serious side too. Kore-eda says his aim was to show that by being engaged in a dialogue with one’s past, one can affirm one’s life and grow spiritually. He raises the question too of whether a meaningful memory is one in which you yourself are content, or one in which you are part of another’s happiness.

After Life is a film with one of the lightest touches regarding mortality that I know of. Watching it, one cannot but have the persistent thought, ‘what memory would I choose?’, aware that every day you are creating new memories, both for yourself and for others.

Anonymous on 12th August 2007
Author of 299 reviews

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Film Description

At a way station somewhere between heaven and earth, (and resembling a dilapidated school), the newly deceased are greeted by spiritual guides who help them sift through their memories to find the one really precious moment of their lives. The chosen moment is recreated and filmed, and they take this with them when they pass on to Heaven. Quiet, discursive, thoughtful and very lovely. What would you choose?

DVD Details

Certificate: PG

Publisher: Soda Pictures

Length: 118 mins

Format: DVD Colour

Region: 2

Released: 4th October 2010

Cat No: SODA041

Subtitles: English

DVD Extras

  • Stills Gallery.

Film Stills

After Life (Kore-Eda, 1998) After Life (Kore-Eda, 1998) After Life (Kore-Eda, 1998) After Life (Kore-Eda, 1998) After Life (Kore-Eda, 1998) After Life (Kore-Eda, 1998) After Life (Kore-Eda, 1998) After Life (Kore-Eda, 1998)

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Community Reviews

by Anon on 24th September 2007

For those lucky enough to have been able to see it theatrically the relelease of Kore-eda's Afterlife on DVD is both long overdue but, most of all, very welcome. It's ... Read on

by Anon on 19th February 2001

Original, imaginative & affecting - it hooked me from the start. Read on


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