Movies Open the Door to Talking about Death
“Entertaining movies provide door-opening opportunities to talk about your ‘good goodbye’ without being maudlin,” explained Rubin, who speaks regularly to groups on getting the funeral planning conversation going.
Rubin recommends the following films for various funeral planning elements.
Harold and Maude (1971) starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort – a cult classic! Cort is Harold, a young man bored with wealth but interested in death, and Gordon is Maude, a wonderful old lady who can see nothing but good intentions in the world. One of the sweetest and most unconventional love stories ever made. Maude’s outlook on life and death is highly instructive.
Waking Ned Devine (1998) starring Ian Bannen and David Kelly. When Ned Devine dies from shock after winning the lottery, two longtime friends, Michael and Jackie, discover the body and agree Ned would want them to benefit from his good luck. They embark upon an outrageous scheme to claim the ticket but first they have to get all the townsfolk to go along with their plan! There’s a wonderful scene that raises the idea of being present at one’s own life celebration and hearing what people would say about you.
Undertaking Betty (2002) starring Brenda Blethyn, Alfred Molina and Christopher Walken. Stuck in a marriage that’s killing her, Betty (Blethyn) thinks the only way to break from her two-timing scoundrel of a husband is to fake her own death. With the help of her rekindled old flame, the local undertaker (Molina), a quiet funeral is planned down to the smallest detail. But nothing goes as planned when a flamboyant competing funeral director (Walken) jumps in determined to give Betty a send-off no one will ever forget! Don’t miss the hysterical scene with a themed funeral related to Star Trek and Mr. Spock.
The Big Lebowski (1998) starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi. Another cult classic, off-the-wall comedy by the Coen brothers. A hilariously quirky comedy-thriller about bowling, avant-garde art, nihilistic Austrians, and a guy named…The Dude. Instructive for the ash-scattering scene toward the end of the movie.
The Big Chill (1983) starring Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, William Hurt, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Berenger, Mary Kay Place, Jobeth Williams and Meg Tilly. A group of college friends reunite for the funeral of one of their peers who committed suicide. Wonderful sound track and the opening scene provides instructive use of favorite music at a funeral.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) starring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell. Enchanting romantic comedy that features, as you might guess from the title, four weddings and one funeral. The funeral shows the power of poetry with the recitation of W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues” and how same-sex couples mourn the loss of a partner just as much as heterosexual married couples.
Death at a Funeral (2007 – U.K. version) starring Matthew Macfadyen. A family converges at a home funeral where many elements go awry – a debacle of exposed family secrets and misplaced bodies. Puts the “fun” in funeral!
Death at a Funeral (2010 – U.S. version) starring Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence. A scene-for-scene re-do of the British original, with an African-American cast, also very funny. Peter Dinklage is the stranger among the family gathered, and the only member of the cast to repeat his role from the 2007 film.
Other press releases from G/R/P/R
- Funny Funeral Films Can Start Serious Conversations - November 10th, 2011
- A Good Goodbye is a New Mexico Book Awards Finalist in Five Categories - November 8th, 2011
- The Newly-Dead Game Puts the "Fun" in Funeral Planning - November 7th, 2011
- Lessons from 30 Funerals in 30 Days - November 3rd, 2011
- Unusual Funerals Chronicled on The Family Plot Blog - October 19th, 2011
Contact InformationGail Rubin
P.O. Box 36987
Albuquerque, NM 87176-6987