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Headscratchers: What Dreams May Come
  • In an alternate ending (among the deleted scenes collected on the DVD), Chris and Annie are forced to reincarnate as a kind of atonement. In the ending as it appeared in the theatrical release, though, they choose to reincarnate 'cause, hey, it sounds like a fun time. The problem I have is this: It was already established that anyone who commits suicide goes to Hell. We know that Annie is capable of suicide. So why take the chance of that happening again? Why reincarnate, and risk the very real possibility that you'll wind up in Hell for the rest of eternity? If you've both made it to Heaven, why not stay in Heaven?
    • Annie lost her children and husband in a span of four years. Suicidal is not a default condition for her.
    • I will use the movie since this is what you refer to.
      • First, if they admit their sin/suicide they can escape their Hell. Simply, it's not permanent, just damn near impossible to escape.
      • Second, suicide isn't natural for anyone. It was the stress of first her children and then her husband being killed that lead her to kill herself. And with a second chance, it would not be likely to happen again.
      • Third, in the deleted ending Annie is forced to reincarnate because she must prove herself worthy. It's a test. Chris just joins her because he loves her.
      • Fourth, in the theatrical ending Annie wants to prove herself. Chris, meanwhile, just wants to be with her.
  • The alternate ending also brings up a niggling question of predestination. They know, before they are even reborn, exactly how many years they'll live before they die the next time around. If the future is predetermined like that, doesn't that mean that Annie's original suicide was also predetermined? And if so, claiming that suicide "violates the order" of the Cosmos is disingenuous at best and downright evil at worst.
    • I imagine it "violates the order" because it's not predetermined.
    • I think this is something that's addressed in the book; it's not that they know when they'll die, it's that they know how old they should be when they die. Annie's suicide was "violating the order" because she would have lived for another thirty years or so if she hadn't killed herself. IIRC, there's a point made that had Chris not gone after her, Annie would have been kept in Hell at least until the years she hadn't lived had passed.
  • What kind of message does the film send by saying a person who becomes depressed after losing their family and kills themselves goes to hell? For one thing, since clinical depression is a medical disorder, I doubt that a notion of "free will" applies to it. The film also brings up the problem of reconciling hell with a just and loving god in general, of course.
    • In the movie it is established that nobody actually sends people to hell, that place is a self-inflicted penance.
    • What does this say that a person would inflict hell on themselves for having committed suicide in despair over the loss of their family, even if they can be reunited in heaven? Or that this was not made clear to them?
      • It says "Don't kill yourself any time you lose someone you care about because you think you can be with them again that way"? Which is... a good thing?
      • It seems to say "If you're Driven to Suicide due to losing everyone you love, you'll go to hell." Family-Unfriendly Aesop for sure.
    • This troper got the impression that committing suicide is kind of like accidentally inflicting intractable depression on one's soul. The action causes the soul to get stuck in a painful loop, and it's very hard to break out of it (I don't buy that hardly anyone breaks out of Hell).
    • The entire movie works on the principle of reincarnation (typical Eastern mysticism) and then incorporates the more Western (Judeo-Christian) aspects of heaven and hell. You shouldn't go scratching your head at syncretic concepts that make little sense when mixed together like oil and water.
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