With the breakup of his Tokyo orchestra, Daigo, a young cellist, decides to return with his adoring wife Mika to his hometown in Japan's far north. Searching for work, he responds to a cryptic classified ad for work in "Departures" only to find out that the position is in the field of "encoffining," the ritual preparation of a corpse before it is placed in a casket for cremation. Daigo gradually takes to the work and finds he has a real talent, but he is too ashamed to tell Mika, leaving him torn between his true calling and his marriage.
Winner of the Academy Award® for best foreign language film this year, Departures achieves a pleasingly droll blend of screwball-like humor with a moving story about reconciliation, acceptance, and finding one's place in the world, enhanced by a richly orchestrated score. By taking us into the uniquely Japanese tradition of the "Nokanshi"-who washes, dresses, and grooms the dead body in front of the deceased's family, helping the living to bid farewell and the dead to move on to the next world-director Yojiro Takita also offers a refreshingly light and life-affirming vision of how we can reconcile ourselves with death and dying.
Length: 130 minutes
Premiere: New York
Primary Cast: Masahiro Motoki, Ryoko Hirosue, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kimiko Yo, Takashi Sasano, Kazuko Yoshiyuki
Director: Yojiro Takita
Screenwriter: Kundo Koyama
Producer: Toshiaki Nakazawa
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Director of Photography: Takashi Sasano
Editing: Akimasa Kawashima
Yojiro Takita joined Hiroshi Mukai's Sushi Productions as an assistant director in 1976. He made his directorial debut in 1981 with Chikan Onna Kyoshi and went on to helm more than 20 films, including Komikku Zasshi Nanka Iranai!, The Yen Family, We Are Not Alone, The Exam, Secret, Ashura, and The Battery. In 2001, his special effects fantasy Onmyoji (The Ying-Yang Master) stormed the box office and generated a sequel. His historical drama When The Last Sword Is Drawn earned best film at the 2004 Japan Academy Prize Awards.
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