Original title: Wandafuru raifu or Wonderful Life (1998)
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Starring: Kazuko Shirakawa, Takashi Naito, Susumu Terajima, Akio Yokoyama, Kyoko Kagawa
Genre: Documentary-like, Drama
Language: Japanese (English Subtitled)
Details: Japan, 118 min, color
Other: DVD available

Numerous films have tried to explain what takes place after death, yet none can give you a real answer. The idea behind afterlife is unusual: “What is the one memory you would take with you?” This becomes the requirement to proceed to the afterlife.

After Life incorporates numerous empty shots: an empty room, hallway and chair. These give an interesting feeling; since our lives are often filled with spans of time were nothing much happens. To give use a feel of the visual memory; we have scenes that several days later, popup in our mind. Like the institute’s logo, the sight of two men watching a film of the woman they both loved, the old lady gathering leaves and rocks, a noisy band sitting on snowy steps. Together it creates remarkable sense of reality and naturalism it becomes irresistible to examine our own life for that unique memory.

One example for these interviews is with a young girl immense joy about her trip to Disneyland. The counsellors are there to guide them to choose a memory that will remain for eternity, and not criticize them. The girl’s counsellor personally want her to choose something else, more meaningful in her life. Learning her choice was too common she decides on a more unique and personal memory.

Another is with a pilot, whose memory is to be in the clouds for the first time, clearly knows what he wants and is interested in specific details to recreate his memory. Such as the place placement of the wing is more important than the actual cockpit. In the end, his memory is a location but the emotions he witnessed the first time passes through a cloud.

After Life is a sequence of a dozen different memories, which when brought together creates a life. Some remember love, some remember comfort, and others remember physical pleasure; the totality is the essence of life.