Death is the one thing the living can count on, it is the one true known in this world. We are all going to die. While this may seem a bit morbid and frightening to some, it can be extremely fascinating and intriguing to others. This is the subject of a 2014 documentary series by the Norwegians. More specifically, by production company Flimmer Film (This is all the information I could get based on SBS website and IMDB when I know more I’ll tell you). The series tackles the somewhat difficult subject on death with a unique mix of humor and respect. It showcases a number of perspectives ranging from the scientific through to the religious with a bit of philosophical pondering poured into the mix. It is truly eye opening and what I enjoyed about it most was being exposed to different cultures and religions and how they deal with this fundamental fact.
The first episode entitled “Physical Death” is where you can go to get a brief overview about the science of dying. The episode also explores the different possibilities of how to deal with remains, from cremation to cryogenics or the possibility of how our bodies can be recycled and provide life for other living organisms (like beautiful flowers and trees).
The second episode “Life After Death” reveals how different cultures mourn/celebrate the deceased and how religions have formed around attempting to answer one of life’s big questions ‘what happens after we die?’. We visit Nepal and sky burials, India and cremations, Christianity and the controversy of cremation, Mexico and the Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos), The USA and Jazz funerals, the list goes on and on.
The third episode “Creative Power” explores different forms of art and artists who use death to fuel their work. There are artists, religious art, music from heavy metal to pop rock, writers and film makers all using death to create, inspire, question and express death. The episode also takes a look at symbolism, how do we portray something intangible like death? and also briefly touches on the personification of death, which could be in itself a whole separate series.
The fourth episode “Market of Death” gets very practical as it explores how death can be used to make money. From the traditional funeral to space age cyrogenics, there is no escaping the fact that even when you die you need to pay through the nose to get your remains looked after. Death can also be exploited, there are museums dedicated to artists who have passed on and even a “Facebook” for the dead.The episode is very enlightening an can give you a few things to think about.
The fifth and final episode of the series “Political Death” asks the question, what makes certain deaths more important than others? It looks at death on a large scale, for example September 11, and the impact such events had on the world. They take us to America and Vietnam, and discuss how each country remembers their dead as a result of the war. There is also a look at how significant political leaders have been embalmed and put on display after they have died, because they represent something that is fundamental to the countries cultural and political beliefs.
All in all this has been an eye opening and intriguing documentary. The creators have done an exceptional job in discussing a topic that most find uncomfortable to talk about and made it approachable. Well done, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.