It’s Oscar time again. So get out your gown and take a look at the 2019 films that are talking about death and issues around it. THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS, so read further at your own peril. Seriously, it’s about death in films, can ́t get more spoiled than that.
The Avengers: Endgame
SPOILER, everyone dies, or at least that was the plan. In the prior film Super Villain Thanos used the Infinity Gauntlet to disintegrate half of all life in the universe. The film follows half of the Marvel hero ́s as they deal with their grief and struggle to come to terms with what happened. Unlike in real life, they are able to think of ways for loved ones to return, but despite that it still showcases the debilitating effects grief can have on even the ̈strongest ̈ among us.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
While it’s called the rise of Skywalker, the term death of skywalker could be deemed more suitable. SPOILER: everyone dies, or at least all the true skywalkers do. Similar to the star who played her, Princess Leia, a commander and leader passes away in a heroic act. The crew then keeps her body on display in the camp for her followers to mourn. It´s a beautiful scene which allows the audience to get an idea of a home viewing.
If killing one favorite character wasn’t enough, in a turn of events Kylo Ren saves the life of Rey by giving up his own. Of course this is after they had finally declared their love for each other. Meaning we have a woman devastated by losing the love of her life and one true soul mate. The film then approaches her grief by showcasing her attempting to find solace in a funeral like way, burying an item which represents both the mother-like figure of Princess Leia as well as her dead lover. She then takes their name to continue their legacy and let them live on through her.
There are a few death themes in the latest Frozen sequel. As with most Disney movies, the parents of two princesses are still gone. Following up on the first film, the second film goes into understanding what the legacy their parents have passed on to them means. There is also a cautionary warning about becoming obsessed and going through it alone, when there are loved ones around who can help. There is then a song dedicated to describing the pain and grief that strikes Anna who thinks at one point that she’s lost her sister forever. Overall the film can help children start to understand that even when people are gone they can be there to guide us and continue as part of our story.
A fun thriller which has a famous detective trying to investigate who killed the patriarch and breadwinner of the family. It follows a plethora of characters as they navigate the feelings of the father/grandfather passing with an unhealthy balance of concern over what will happen to his estate. There are many assumptions made about the final wishes of the departed father and for death care providers an unfriendly reminder about the drama that can happen when pre-planning is not properly arranged and communicated.
Once Upon a time in Hollywood
The way the film approaches death is controversial as they aren’t talking about a fictional character, but changing the fate of the actress Sharon Tate, who was brutally murdered. Quentin Tarantino who is famous for changing history and having a bloody scene in his stories doesn’t disappoint in this oscar nominated flick. In the film Sharon doesn´t die as she does in reality and the retelling of her ending, while preferable to the actuality of what happened to the starlet, could appear offensive to some. Is it respectful to create an artistic fictional retelling of a real person’s horrible ending? Quentin did communicate and show the script to the late actress´s sister, who did give the go-ahead from her side, although with some hesitation.
This holiday season love and cry fest film ends up being all about death. A young girl gets a second chance at life with a heart transplant, but after the surgery no longer feels herself and is wasting her life away. Then one day a handsome stranger enters the picture and of course they fall in love. Only to find out that he is the heart donor appearing as a ghost-like character who brings her back to life. Reminding the audience that life is precious and to take advantage of the time you have cause not everyone is entitled to it.
The beloved period television show made its first scene debut. The show has a history of death related story lines with beloved main characters dying due to childbirth, sickness, or tragic accents. The film continues the legacy of the show, showcasing daily life for the elite UK aristocrats as well as the pains of normal life. While there are many highs we also find out the matriarch grandmother will be passing soon. A dominant character, the grandmother will of course be arranging everything to be left as she sees fit. A good reminder for movie goers about death positivity and the importance of pre-planning, so that any end of life wishes, or more likely demands in grannies case, can be met.
The underlying theme of the entire film is around death, specifically about an afterlife theory of reincarnation. Alley cats compete for the chance to be reborn and fantasize about what their new life will hold. While the film received some of the most negative reviews of the year the theme of reincarnation remains a talking point.
Ford vs. Ferrari
A beautiful film about the people behind the scenes at Ford, attempting to beat Ferrari in the Le Mans race. The end of the film seems lighthearted like there is a new beginning, but then quickly turns with a tragic death. Having a legendary man leave behind a budding career, a family, and a best friend. While the passing isn´t the main element of the the story, the film ends diving into the grief felt by his best friend and colleague. Who is challenged with ¨being a man¨ that gets over it and embracing the sadness and grief that has overcome him and changed him.
A satirical film that will make you laugh and cry. A fictional story following a boy in the Hitler Youth group during the end of World War II. By the end of the film he loses his mother and is unsure how to channel his anger and grief. Does he hurt the cause she stood by, because it caused her death? Or can he honor her by living a life in the same way she did. While funny, the film does highlight the pain death causes to children and our own inner child as we come to terms with loss.