Departures Background

Departures Background

The film Departures is a Japanese drama directed by Yōjirō Takita and released in 2008. The film is a drama that follows the life of a mortician in a rural area in Japan. The film is inspired by a novel entitled Coffinman, an autobiographical novel in which the writer, Shinmon Aoki recalls the period when he worked as a ritual mortician.

Both the novel and the film focus a lot on the stigma the ritual morticians were faced with. Generally regarded as being an unclean profession, the morticians are regarded as being unclean and until one point in history, they were even forced to live separately from the rest of the population. While the times have changed, the idea that those working with dead bodies were unclean still remained in the minds of the general population. The film presents what challenges Daigo has to face after he decides to work as a ritual mortician and how the perception the others had about him changes once they find about his profession.

The film won the grand prize in 2008 at the Montreal World Film Festival which prompted the producers to release the film in Japan as well. While at first, the producers were uncertain how the film will be received because of the prejudice the Japanese community had against the morticians. Despite this, only after a month after the film’s release, the film won the Academy Prize for Picture of the Year and then in 2009 the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

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