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DEPARTURES aka OKURIBITO
USA: Regent Releasing
UK: Arrow Film Distributors
Cast: Masahiro Motoki, Ryoko Hirosue, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Kimiko Yo, Takashi Sasano
Director: YOjirO Takita
Language: Japanese (English subtitles)
USA: 131 mins
UK: 130 mins
USA Rated: PG-13 for thematic material
UK Certificate: 12A contains emotionally intense scenes of bereavement
USA Release Date: 29 May 2009 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 8 January 2010 (limited Release - key cities)
UK Release Date: 4 December 2009 (Limited Release - London)
Director Yojiro Takita's sensitive story of a search for dignity and serenity is told with delicate humour and compassion in this wonderfully fresh story, which was an Academy AwardŽ winner for Best Foreign Language Film. DEPARTURES is not only a delightful journey into the heartland of Japan, but also an astonishingly beautiful look at a sacred part of Japan's cultural heritage.
Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) is a gifted and dedicated cellist who loses his cherished position in an orchestra when it is suddenly dissolved. Daigo decides to move back to his old hometown with his wife to look for work and start over.
He answers a classified ad entitled "Departures" thinking it is an advertisement for a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a "Nokanshi" or "encoffineer," at a funeral company and concerns the professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life.
While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of "Nokanshi," acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living.