The latest film from acclaimed Japanese director Yojiro Takita beat off stiff competition earlier this year to take the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The humorous and sensitive film about a cellist called Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Matoki) who finds himself jobless when his orchestra is dissolved, comes out in cinemas in the UK this December.
Answering a job advertisement for a company called “Departures” Daigo expects to arrive at a travel agency but instead finds himself filling a vacancy for a “Nokashi”, someone who prepares dead bodies for burial.
“What does the job entail?” he enquires upon arrival and is shocked by the blunt reply:
“Putting bodies into coffins.”
Despite vomiting when he sees his first cadaver and facing a barrage of disapproval from his family and friends Daigo stubbornly takes the job and eventually finds a strange satisfaction in acting as a ceremonial gatekeeper between life and death.
The film opened in Japan a year ago and was released in cinemas in America last May. So far it has taken $40 million at the box office and is being hailed as an unprecedented hit. Even sales of a new hearse modelled on the one in the film have apparently been good.