Here are three entertaining movies about death and afterlife that bear no resemblance whatsoever to reality, but I enjoyed them because 1) they’re fun to watch, with interesting twists and turns, and 2) they reveal how our fear of death and the appeal of love and romance can come together in some really bizarre ways when left to creative Hollywood minds!
I don’t recommend them for kids, especially the animated film Coraline, which offers a glimpse of a paradise world like the one where most of us will awaken after we die, then morphs it into a grotesque world of lost and malevolent souls… with the ruler of the repulsive roost being none other than Coraline’s mom! While the Coraline movie can be entertaining to adults who are comfortable with their afterlife prospects (and who have no serious mother issues :-))), it could be upsetting to young, impressionable minds. Seriously.
Zombies, Vampires, and the Living Dead?
Then, all seriousness aside, there’s Camille, a sweet, beautiful girl who can’t understand why her hair keeps falling out and her fingers are falling off… until her ne’er-do-well boyfriend breaks the bad news: She’s dead. Ouch.
That’d be a tough pill to swallow were it not for a couple of lucky breaks. First, Camille’s uncle, a cop, has reluctantly forced the law-breaking boy to marry his neice because the girl’s been madly in love with him since high school. (The wedding happens while she’s still among the living, which makes it harder to justify the uncle’s bad decision. I mean, if your favorite niece is dead, why not hook her up with a career criminal? Otherwise….) Second, although the delinquent-boyfriend-cum-hubby can’t stand the chatterbox Camille before she dies, he suddenly finds his dead wife irresistible. Maybe death has made her more contemplative. It seems to have a quieting effect on most people.
Anyhow, these weird subplots come together into a fun movie with a Prince Charming conclusion—albeit a dead Prince Charming—and the two young lovers seem bound to live happily ever after . . . and of course I use the term “live” a bit loosely. Will they be zombies on Earth—Camille’s current lifestyle choice? Or will they move mercifully to the Great Beyond where they belong? Sadly (and I mean that in the broad sense), we may have to wait for the sequel.
And what can you say about the film Twilight, which spotlights the other kind of living dead—vampires. The young, virile vampire Edward (well—as young and virile as a thousand-year-old can be), falls madly in love with the mere mortal teenage Bella and protects her with his life (see, here we go again with that troublesome word). He has to protect his sweetie from cars careening out of control, his blood-thirsty family members, and other forces trying to snuff the light out of the fragile girl. It’s clear that he’d really love to get into her collar with his canines, but his finer side prevails. He preserves the purity of her hemoglobin.
So the savage and the noble battle it out once again to make another good story, especially for starry-eyed teenage girls with a penchant for bad boys…and, lucky thing for the bad boys, there never seems to be a shortage of those girls!
These films are just three of the many, many far-fetched (some might say ridiculous) stories about death and afterlife that we humans find entertaining. The important question is, why? We seem to like silly stories about dead people hanging around here on Earth in dense bodies much more than realistic stories of dead people leaving the physical world and their physical bodies behind, and resuming life as blissful beings in a spirit-world paradise. Why?
No drama in that. That’s certainly one reason.
Fear of Death
But I think a much bigger reason is our basic fear of death, which (according to ethereals—angels)…
“…is based on the conscious belief that your bodily existence offers life and security, which it never wants to lose. Fear of death therefore is evidence of the mind having lost its roots. It shows a spiritual being who has far removed itself from its higher self. You owe this mentality largely to an intellectual and scientific way of thinking. It wants all thoughts reduced to a comprehensible level of material existence. Heaven is in man and those who have heaven within themselves go to heaven. Heaven is in all those who recognize what is of God and let themselves be guided by the Divine. The priority and basic concern of every religion has always been the acknowledgement of God!”
Fact is, we’ve allowed ourselves to become so immersed in worldly things that we’ve forgotten what the higher, heavenly realities are all about. We pattern our view of the afterlife upon our familiar world.
As Woody Allen theorized, “The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won’t get much sleep.”
We’re in denial of death, so we weave fantastic tales of people achieving eternal life here on Earth.
Woody Allen again: “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by NOT DYING!”
Other reviews of movies about the afterlife:
Nosso Lar (Our Home) – an other-worldly (but realistic) portrayal of a spiritual outpost where people who’ve died can recuperate into an afterlife paradise. This Brazilian film has an English version: The Astral City.
Chico Xavier – a dramatic look at the life and afterlife of a great Brazilian medium. (English subtitles)
Calling Earth – a serious documentary by Dan Drasin about Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC), the use of technology to get in touch with the worlds of spirit.
Life After Death Project – a dramatic documentary by Paul Davids about the afterlife, including ITC research.
Twilight, Camille, and Coraline – three silly, fun, and somewhat dark movies that illustrate our human misperceptions about the afterlife.