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Departures (Okuribito) - Masahiro Motoki, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ryoko Hirosue, Yôjirô Takita

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Departures (Okuribito) follows Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki), a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and who is suddenly left without a job. Spotting a Help Wanted ad featuring the word “departures,” he is excited about the prospect of trying a new career in the travel industry. Daigo is hired on the spot, only later learning exactly what the job entails: the ceremonial “encoffination” of corpses prior to cremation. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work, acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed.

Departures (Okuribito) follows Daigo's profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living.

Theatrical propaganda posters

Departures (Okuribito) theatrical one sheet image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film drama Japan death ritual undertaker cello orchestra life change Japanese

Persons of interest

  • Masahiro Motoki .... Daigo Kobayashi
  • Tsutomu Yamazaki .... Ikuei Sasaki
  • Ryoko Hirosue .... Mika Kobayashi
  • Kazuko Yoshiyuki .... Tsuyako Yamashita
  • Kimiko Yo .... Yuriko Kamimura
  • Takashi Sasano .... Shokichi Hirata
  • Mitsuyo Hoshino
  • Tarô Ishida
  • Hiroyuki Kishi
  • Miyuki Koyanagi
  • Tôru Minegishi
  • Sanae Miyata
  • Ryôsuke Ohtani
  • Tatsuhito Okuda
  • Genjitsu Shu
  • Tetta Sugimoto
  • Tarô Suwa
  • Yukiko Tachibana
  • Takao Toji
  • Tatsuo Yamada
  • Kundo Koyama .... Screenwriter
  • Yôjirô Takita .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

  • Departures (Okuribito) official movie sites:
  • Departures (Okuribito) film production notes
  • Departures (Okuribito) QuickTime movie trailers
  • Awards and film festivals:
    • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS - Oscars) 2009: Won: Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
    • Asian Film Awards 2009: Won: Best Actor (Masahiro Motoki)
    • Awards of the Japanese Academy 2009: Won: Best Actor (Masahiro Motoki), Best Cinematography (Takeshi Hamada), Best Director (Yôjirô Takita), Best Editing (Akimasa Kawashima), Best Film, Best Lighting (Hitoshi Takaya), Best Screenplay (Kundo Koyama), Best Sound (Satoshi Ozaki, Osamu Onodera), Best Supporting Actor (Tsutomu Yamazaki), Best Supporting Actress (Kimiko Yo); Nominated: Best Actress (Ryoko Hirosue), Best Art Direction (Fumio Ogawa), Best Film Score (Joe Hisaishi)
    • Blue Ribbon Awards 2009: Won: Best Actor (Masahiro Motoki)
    • Hawaii International Film Festival 2008: Won: Audience Award Favourite Feature (Yôjirô Takita)
    • Hochi Film Awards 2008: Won: Best Film
    • Kinema Junpo Awards 2009: Won: Best Actor (Masahiro Motoki), Best Director (Yôjirô Takita), Best Film (Yôjirô Takita), Best Screenplay (Kundo Koyama)
    • Mainichi Film Concours 2009: Won: Best Film, Best Sound (Satoshi Ozaki)
    • Montréal World Film Festival 2008: Won: Grand Prix des Amériques (Yôjirô Takita)
    • Nikkan Sports Film Awards 2008: Won: Best Director (Yôjirô Takita), Best Film
    • Palm Springs International Film Festival 2009: Won: Audience Award Best Narrative Feature (Yôjirô Takita)
    • Udine Far East Film Festival 2009: Won: Audience Award (Yôjirô Takita), Black Dragon Audience Award (Yôjirô Takita)
    • Wisconsin Film Festival 2009: Won: Audience Award Best Narrative Film (Yôjirô Takita)
    • Yokohama Film Festival 2009: Won: Festival Prize Best Director (Yôjirô Takita), Best Film (Yôjirô Takita), Best Supporting Actress (Ryoko Hirosue, Kimiko Yo)
  • NB: Japanese language dialogue with English language subtitles
  • Studios and distributors:

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

The theme of a cosmopolitan boy returning to his small town was recently and successfully explored in As it is in Heaven (Så som i himmelen) and Departures (Okuribito) plays successfully with this idea, adding an extra dimension by pushing the protagonist outside of his comfort zone. That makes for good drama. And good humour.

The Japanese, like many other cultures, have a phobia about death. It is an "unclean" event only slightly more acceptable than defecation. Anyone involved with death becomes a social outcast and Japan is not noted for its liberal mores. However, there's something in Japanese culture that's greater than the fear of death and that's the kudos of a job well done. As Tom Cruise noted in The last samurai, the Japanese attempt to live their life in a perfect way, hence the delicate subtlety of the Tea Ceremony, the ballet of the samurai, the formality of sushi. Departures (Okuribito) is the merger of those two extremes.

Masahiro Motoki is delightful, taking the piss out of Japanese men at the same time that he makes you appreciate their way of life. The other actors connect into Masahiro's (and Daigo's) dichotomy, feeding him with lovely performances. You don't have to be a Japanophile to appreciate this movie but it will put the icing on the cake.

The drama, Japan movie Departures (Okuribito) is directed by Yôjirô Takita and stars Masahiro Motoki, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ryoko Hirosue.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Languages: Japanese
  • Special features:
    • Trailers: Theatrical
  • Subtitles: English

Government security censorship classification

M (Mature themes)

Surveillance time

131 minutes (1:30 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 15 October 2009
Disc: 17 February 2010

Cinema surveillance images

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