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A Certain Kind of Death

11 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Mar 22, 2005)
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$79.99 $35.99

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Editorial Reviews

An unblinking and unsettling look at a mysterious process that goes on all around us: what happens to people who die with no next of kin? DVD extras include: Director Commentary, Extra Footage, Interviews.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Directors: Blue Hadaegh, Grover Babcock
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Winstar
  • DVD Release Date: March 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 69 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007IO6HI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,391 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Certain Kind of Death" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Rana-Scope on March 9, 2005
Format: DVD
This film took me completely by surprise - I saw it at a festival, and I've been waiting for the DVD for over a year.

Disturbing, graceful, and deep.

The movie follows the LA Coroners when they find people who've died without family.

What might seem gross is actually fascinating: It's a complex, unexpected and sometimes heartbreaking process. So that I don't give it away, let's just say that the city takes care of everything, down to the last detail.

But the film is much more than just what happens.

The filmmakers find a raw beauty in the most disturbing images. More than anything, watching the fate of people who have no one makes you reflect on your own life.

Be prepared for images you will never forget.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Aditya B. Surti on October 9, 2005
Format: DVD
This `depressing yet graceful and informative' documentary focuses on an extremely unique and untouched subject matter - What happens to the body of a person who dies without any kin alive? What does the State do when it learns that there is nobody to claim the body of the decedent or his assets and how does it manage to dispose off the body and belongings of a person so strange and acknowledged by nobody. The documentary does a good job at educating the audience with the foreseeability of a myriad of possibilities of what could happen to the human body after death; no matter how abominating and unacceptable such possibilities appear. This would caution an easy going carefree person to take certain vital steps during his lifetime to ensure a certain specific treatment to his body and estate after his death. The documentary reveals the interesting management of the bodies of three decedents until the State finally dutifully cremates or buries such unclaimed bodies, and the administration and disposition of the decedents' estates when they leave everything without a will or a kin alive. On a final note - Some of the graphic images of the dead bodies may be disturbing yet tolerable and acceptable.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 19, 2006
Format: DVD
A Certain Kind of Death (Grover Babock and Blue Hadaegh, 2003)

What happens to those who die without family to claim them-- transients, homeless, those who live alone without family? Babcock and Hadaegh show us in A Certain Kind of Death, and the answer is relentlessly depressing, if fascinating.

The filmmakers follow a few days in the life of various government departments as the body of transient is dealt with-- the attempt to track down any surviving family, the cremation, the disposition of the man's effects. All is handled in a cold, clinical manner, with some of those involved keeping themselves sane in any way they know how.

The sheer mudanity of the situation provides, paradoxically, all the drama this unassuming little documentary needs to keep the viewer watching. The dead man is handled like just another case, one of hundreds-- which, of course, is exactly what he is to a coroner's office in a large city. The film wends to its inevitable conclusion, no surprising twists, no family suddenly popping out of the woodwork, just an old man, dead, no longer a part of society, slowly disappearing from the memories of everyone on the planet-- except that this one won't. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as applied to film; when you observe something, it changes the dynamic. And here is the film's great irony; that this particular transient, by dint of being the subject of this documentary, is not likely to be forgotten.

None of the usual adjectives seems to apply here. You can't call the film lovely, of course. If anything, it is its own particular breed of ugliness. And yet, of course, you'll keep watching it. This is a film you should see, not for its entertainment value, but because it shows you something about the world we live in that you don't know about, perhaps never thought to ask. It is knowledge for the sake of knowledge, and there's far too little of that in the film industry these days. *** ½
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By stoic VINE VOICE on December 3, 2009
Format: DVD
A Certain Kind of Death unnerves its viewers by exploring what happens to people who die without any next of kin to claim the body. The filmmakers follow the Los Angeles Coroner's Office through several cases, from the discovery of the corpses to their eventual burial in a mass grave. This is a unique, thought-provoking film, but there are a few dull moments that keep me from giving it more than three stars.

The stories of these forgotten lives are fascinating. The filmmakers focus on the authorities' efforts to uncover the story of one man who died alone; we learn that he was a gay man who gave his own burial plot to his partner when the partner died from AIDS. These stories cause the viewer to think about uncomfortable, important questions; during the film I found myself vowing to treat those in my life better, so that I would not end up alone and forgotten in my later years.

The last half of the film isn't quite as interesting. The bureaucratic minutiae involved in these cases are not that interesting. I realize that the filmmakers are making that point that once we die we become statistics to the bureaucracies that deal with our deaths. That does not mean, unfortunately, that the details are engaging. I wish the filmmakers had recognized that the power in their film came from the stories of the deceased, unwanted individuals.

I recommend A Certain Kind of Death for its unique subject matter and powerful moments. I wish, however, that the filmmakers could have sustained the momentum that they built at the beginning of the film.
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