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Film / The Funeral

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The Funeral (Ososhiki) is a 1984 Japanese film by director Juzo Itami. It was released on November 17, 1984. The Funeral is a comedy about a family preparing a traditional Japanese funeral.

The film starts with a 69-year old man named Shokichi Amamiya having a heart attack. His daughter Chizuko and her husband Wabisuke, who work as television actors, are in charge of his funeral arrangements. The problem is that neither Chizuko or Wabisuke have any experience with funerals. Comedy ensues as a host of relatives descends on Shokichi's house while Chizuko and Wabisuke struggle to deal with the elaborate rituals and traditions of Japanese wakes and funerals.

The Funeral was a hit in Japan. It won five Japanese Academy Awards and was nominated for nine.

Not to be confused with a 1996 film also called The Funeral.

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Tropes:

  • Black Comedy: The comedy is more based on the events going on, but it does have a few morbid jokes, such as when a few of the family members peek inside the crematory and comment on it.
  • Brick Joke: The dimwit uncle can't figure out which way north is (his brother's head needs to point that way) even when the others show him which way is west. He continues to try and figure it out as the others have a conversation. The film then cuts to the next scene when Wabisuke and his brother-in-law are drinking and discussing arrangements with the funeral director—only for the uncle to wander in again, still trying to figure out which way is north.
  • Cuckold: Aoki is sitting in his car uncomfortably while his wife Yoshiko moans loudly from the sex she's having with Wabisuke in the woods, just a few meters away.
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  • Death of a Child: Discussed when a character calmly mentions how babies need to be cremated on lower settings than adults.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: There is a several minute long sequence roughly 50-minutes in that is styled after silent films.
  • Due to the Dead: It is Serious Business in Japan. Chizuko and Wabisuke watch an instructional video on how to conduct oneself at a funeral, which includes tips on how to dress and phrases to say to the bereaved.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: A peculiar tracking shot that lasts over a minute starts at the head of the coffin as the funeral director is messing with a microphone. It then follows the microphone's cord on a long and winding path across the floor all the way to the porch outside, where it leads to a loudspeaker.
  • Forced Perspective: Lampshaded in an early scene where Chizuko and Wabisuke are appearing in a TV commercial. It's a forced perspective gag in which she appears to be much bigger than he is.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Averted with Shokichi's quite realistic heart attack. He starts crawling on the floor and makes it outside. He is able to talk for a while but eventually has to go to the hospital, where he dies off-screen.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Yoshiko moans loudly in orgasm, while her poor husband out in the road sits in his car and cringes.
  • Peaceful in Death: The characters note that Shokichi's body looks peaceful.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The story is kicked off by Shokichi's death from a heart attack.
  • P.O.V. Cam: POV of a dead guy, as the family clusters around Shokichi's corpse at the hospital.
  • Silence Is Golden: Family friend Aoki films the proceedings with a home video camera. The sequence plays out like a silent film. See also Deliberately Monochrome above.
  • Slice of Life: There's really no conflict or plot through-line, just a portrait of a well-to-do family staging a funeral.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Wabisuke is having an affair with Aoki's wife Yoshiko, a younger woman.
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