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After Life (1998)

Erika Oda, Susumu Terajima Arata  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Erika Oda, Susumu Terajima Arata
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: New Yorker
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2000
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004U1F9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,106 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "After Life" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

This unpretentious, endearing film is a modest triumph. Based on interviews with more than 500 people about the one memory they would choose to take with them to heaven, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda has modeled a unique blend of documentary and fiction that addresses the vagaries of memory but also what it means to make films. After Life transpires in a sort of way station where the dead must select one memory to be re-created on film and taken on with them forever, relinquishing everything else. Over the span of a week, a dedicated group of caseworkers tease out self-deceptions as well as real epiphanies from 22 different lives. An old woman remembers reuniting with her husband on a crowded bridge after World War II; a man recollects the breeze felt on a tram ride the day before summer vacation; a successful man faces his own treachery. Remembering becomes a courageous act in the casual exposition of this lovely film. --Fionn Meade

Product Description

What one memory of your life would you want to live over and over? In this compelling and heartfelt fantasy from Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda ("Maborosi"), the newly dead are met in a "way station" by a celestial staff who help them in choosing and then re-creating the memory--be it good or bad--that will be all they take with them into eternity. Arata, Erika Oda, Taketoshi Naito star. 118 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: Japanese; Subtitles: English; theatrical trailers; production notes; web links; biography. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
92 of 94 people found the following review helpful
A masterfully humorous, compassionate, quiet and moving film by a Japanese director whose work has primarily been in documentaries. The premise is strange but thought-provoking: after death, you have to choose one memory to take with you into eternity; everything else will be forgotten. In a brilliant series of cuts the staff at a run-down, out-of-the-way establishment explain this to the weekly intake of their "clients"--people who have just died. They have three days to decide; then the staff, with summer-camp-like enthusiasm, stages tiny films that recreate the memories. On the last day of the week the films are shown, and the clients vanish, one by one, as they relive the memories that are projected.
Kore-Eda worked with actors and scripts, actors telling the camera their own memories, and non-professionals; the marvellous cast mixes all three and it's impossible to tell which is which. A young girl wants to relive Splash Mountain, only to reconsider after a worker gently tells her that thirty others had made the same choice that year. A boastful roue explains that the memory of course has to be of sex--and then chooses something quite different. An old woman remembers dancing for her older brother's friends in a red dress, and shyly coaches the little girl who will play her in the memory film. And a seventy-year-old salaryman can find nothing worth remembering, so videotapes of his life are requisitioned--touching off what plot there is.
There are no flashbacks and little overt drama, but as the clients look back at their lives the staff are drawn in, and the viewers, too, can't help but wonder what memory would be worth living with for ever. What glows from the placid surface of this extraordinary film is the wonder and mystery of everyday things, the tenuous but rich beauty of merely living. "After Life"-- the Japanese title is "Wonderful Life"--is only ostensibly about death; no film of recent years has been more life affirming.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Compelling Question -- "What If...?" February 14, 2002
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It is extremely rare for me to grace a film release with the coveted ''Five Star'' for a review score, but let me state for the record that dispite this scoring system's limitation to only ''five'' stars, I give Koreeda Hirokazu's ''After Life'' (Japanese title: ''Wonderful Life'') ''Nine Stars!'' It is a film that should be seen and taken to heart, despite whatever theological or eschatological beliefs the viewer may have. (This was not designed as or intended to be a religious film ... if it causes the viewer to reflect more deeply upon their particular religious ideology or to meditate on spiritual matters that's not necessarily a bad thing, but film clearly addresses something else entirely.)

Inspired by experiences he witnessed in his own family life , Koreeda-san presents the viewer with an intriguing premise: After death, you are taken to a processing center (or ''Limbo,'' if you will) ... While there you are given a deadline of only three days to choose just one memory that you can take with you into eternity -- These memories are then reproduced on film and shown on screen inside a special movie theatre that also serves as the launching pad to take you to your ''final destination'' as you ''relive'' (view) your most cherished memory.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inheriting the Mantle of Ingmar Bergman October 22, 2000
Hirokazu Kore-Eda is becoming a kind of modern-day Ingmar Bergman. Between AFTER LIFE and MABAROSI, he's proven that he's interested in the kind of morality-driven stories that the late Swedish filmmaker specialized in. AFTER LIFE is a wonderful film, full of skilled acting and brilliant storytelling. This is one of those all-too-rare movies that brings about hours of contemplation and discussion afterwards, and is a movie that you'll be proud to recommend. It's also a very well-photographed film, and is infinitely improved by a DVD rather than VHS viewing. Even those who aren't fans of foreign films will find much to love here; the story is universal and truthful that it transcends language barriers.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
If you read the editorial review of the movie, you get the basic idea. However it just doesn't communicate the lyrical beauty and sweetness of the movie. I look at movies as just that, movies - not life altering experiences. To paraphrase Fran Liebowitz, "any place that sells JuJubees is not the home of high art." Not the case with this. It became the ultimate party/dinner/friend fodder. I mean really, given the one moment in your life where you could spend eternity, reliving it over and over again, which one would you choose? Much reflection, much looking at the past with different eyes. In this weird way, the movie actually *showed* me how to do it.
The ending is beautiful and poignant. The credits rolled and I was sitting there, tears in my eyes, dumbfounded.
This is not to say that the film doesn't have humor. It is, on top of the above, really, really charming. The acting is wonderful, the cast attractive in that wholesome Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland "Hey gang, let's put on a show!" kind of way (albeit a Japanese version), and it's clever. Totally worth your time and money. Hey, if you don't want to buy it right now, why not rent it? When you see how wonderful it is, you can come back here and spend some bucks.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ABILITY TO WATCH WHENEVER I WANT!!!!
This is one of my top-10 favorite films. It is no longer in print, BUT I was lucky enough to locate this on Ebay. You do not know how grateful I am. Read more
Published 17 hours ago by Julie A. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple movie that asks an intriguing question
A simple movie that asks an intriguing question, what would you choose as your memory to spend eternity in? Sounds easy enough but not so. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Dennis Waller
5.0 out of 5 stars Another intriguing movie by Hirokazu
Excellent and thought provoking. A gentle creation about what really matters. I will watch this movie several times and be showing it to friends, as well.
Published 19 days ago by Gloria Doan
5.0 out of 5 stars AFTER LIFE (the film)
"After Life": An extraordinary and imaginative fantasy on the theme of death and what happens in the hereafter. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Paul Hamilton
5.0 out of 5 stars Life is truly known only to those who suffer, lose, endure adversity...
Following Departures from earth, director Kore-Eda Hirokazu asks what memory people would choose to carry into the great void. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sakuteiki
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't cut it for me
This movie might be art to some but I just didn't get it. Dead people are asked (in their after life) to remember one single memory that they'd like to re-live which they'll be... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Yourstruly
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelled to see it again !!!
A very timely piece of work.
Always interesting when because of whats going on in your own life,
a movie or story seems to be speaking to you specifically. Read more
Published 10 months ago by john g clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good account of Japanes culture, individual lives. Excellent.
I've watched the movie twice from Netflix and finally bought my own DVD. It's a very culturally Japanese movie and makes more sense if you're already familiar with Japanese films,... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Laird M. Wilcox
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of After Life
A terrific movie, profound and entertaining. I bought the DVD to watch it for the second time and enjoyed it even more on a second watching. Read more
Published on April 16, 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars After Life
I first saw this film on a return flight from China, when the film first came out. In recent years I have been unable to buy the film except at an exhorbitant price until just... Read more
Published on February 2, 2012 by Pablo
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