Every morning, a small staff of obituary writers at The New York Times deposits the details of three or four extraordinary lives into the cultural memory - each life's story spun amid the daily beat of war, politics, and football scores. It's amazing what goes on in the obits.
A good obituary is 2% about your death and the otber 98% is about your life, so says Margalit Fox, Senior Obituary Writer for the New York Times. Most of us of a certain age, read the obituaries everyday. Not as the old joke goes to see if you are still alive, but to see how many of your friends might have died.
Obits are important, we learn a lot about the dead person, and when someone from the New York Times calls to talk about your loved ones recent death, you sit up straight. It is a big deal to have a NYT obit, a big deal, indeed. In this film we meet five or six of the obit writers from the NYT, and we learn about their jobs. It is a difficult job, and when assigned an obit, they want to know as much about someone as they can. The writer spends up to 8 hours writing 800 to a 1,000 words. They do not want any errors. They talk to as many people as possible to learn about this person. Often they become enamored about this person, they may know more about this person than the loved ones. They need a cause of death, and they don't fool around. There may be details the family does not want shared, but if it is pertinent it goes in. The obit writers have had upset family members threaten bodily harm. This is a fascinating subject, and we should all be aware of our mortality.
The New York Times has it's own morgue, where they keep files of important people, and over 1,000 people have obits already started. These are important people in their late 50's and 60's. An obit is needed as soon as possible. This film gives us the entire story, and it is a great one, fascinating, interesting and very well spoken and intelligent people are part of this department. There is nothing gross or dark about Obits, everyone should see it.