Saturday, August 28, 2010

Departures: A Japanese Melodrama, where this verb takes on various meanings.

   The first departure  was Kobiyashi's father.  It is only stated that he left the main character as a boy, alone with his mother to raise him, in the small coffee shop turned bar in their home.

   The next departure is  two years previous to the stories beginning. His mother is deceased and leaves him the home he grew up in.  This is where we pick up the main thread of the plot.  By now Kobiyashi has played Cello since kindergarden, and finally landed a job with an orchestra.  The very expensive Cello never made him feel comfortable with his playing.  When the orchestra becomes dissolved we move to departure number three.

     Our protagonist has always felt he would never be adequate for another orchestra.  After admitting this to his spouse, he sells the Cello and moves back to his hometown into the house he was bequeathed.  In need of a job he scours the newspaper.  A job ad appears that a company needs travel agents, hence, "departure".  He soon finds out that "departures" has a whole different connotation here.  The boss himself hires him immediately and pays him his first days pay.   The first "job" was to say the least undesirable...then as he watches the care that his employer gives to the newly deceased- it grows on him.

    Departure number four is when Kobiyashi's wife leaves him after finding out that he performs Casketting.  This is done for the undertakers and the families before cremation or burial.  Humiliated she leaves for her hometown.  This does not last long because she finds she is pregnant.  Her return makes our professional Casketter happy, but she remains skeptical.  This is, until she sees how he deals with a close relatives own departure.  The  owner of a fifty year old public bathhouse.  Once she sees the care and professionalism of what he provides the families she accepts our key figure's career choice.

   Our fifth departure is just an addendum not really relevant to Kobiyashi's life, but the Japanese community.  It was the circumstances of his first solo pre-casket preparation.  He finds that the woman he is performing his duties on is not a woman at all.  He remains calm.  Tells his boss.  Meanwhile the family has a small break down because of all the denial that their son was in fact a transvestite.  I found this to be interesting and I will be expounding more on Gender bending and GLBT issues and how they are dealt with in Asian films through time.  In the end, the father of the cross dressing soul thanks the team for letting him really see his son.
In so doing the family is making a departure from denial to acceptance.

  The last and final departure is the expiration of the central exponents father.  Kobiyashi has despised this person for many years, but seeing his parent treated in such a ruff manner causes him to prepare his own father for that "departure".  In the end finding his father did love him and that the son had many misconceptions.  This way the son departs from all the hatred that was pent up inside to the realization that his father did love him.

     All in all this film was well put togheter, great soundtrack with a subject that is often not delt with.   We all have "departures" that lead us to where we are and where we are going.   Kudos to Director Yojiro Takita.  The cinematography was very nice:  The scene with the cherry blossoms blowing, each frame containing the correct detail.  i.e. the office of the boss with all the plants, the furnishings, and the hibachi grill was primo.

      Once again, I would like to thank my readers.  This was an on the fly post of a movie i just saw today to get the jucies flowing.  I hope this is acceptable, and you will return for more Hong Kong Phooey and all things Screwy.   Asian cinema is a passion of mine.  Any comments will be greatly appreciated.

     Following is a you tube sequence of Departures for your enjoyment.  Please click the archive button to bring up all video and on this one press the CC button for the subtitles.  Enjoy.

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