After Life: Discussion Questions
- In almost all of the interview scenes, we see the interviewee responding to the prompts of the interviewer—but we never see reactions shots of the interviewers? What effect does this have on the way you view the scenes? At what point in the film does that template change—and we see the interviewer in a reaction shot? Why?
- In what ways does After Life stand for our lives? In other words, how is action of the film relevant to our own lives?
- Why is the one fellow so delighted when he finds out that if he chooses a memory he will forget everything else that ever happened to him? Why does he say, “Then that really is heaven”?
- What do we learn about Mochizuki in the scene where Shiori and he sit with Mr. Watanabe and watch him reviewing a scene from one of the videotapes of his life? Why is it important that we have the point of view shot of him reacting to the tape (from Shiori’s point of view)?
- What is the significance of what Mochizuki reveals to Mr. Watanabe on Thusday, when he refers to “our generation”?
- Why did Kawashima, who is working with the woman with Alzheimer’s Disease, not select a memory when he was interviewed in After Life? Do we ever find out why Suigi and Mochizuki decided not to choose a memory? Why did Shiori decide not to select a memory?
- Why does Shiori ruin her photographic safari—when she went into town—by coming back with lousy pictures instead of the ones she was supposed to shoot?
- What do the scenes showing the filming of the memories reveal about the relationships between young and old?
- What does Iseya mean when he says he did not select a memory because “I decided this is the way to take responsibility for my life”?
- Why did Mr. Watanabe select his particular memory? In the interaction between Mr. Watanabe and Mochizuki, what can we conclude that the old man has learned from Iseya?
- Why did Watanabe leave a letter behind for Mochizuki? Why did Watanabe mean when he said working with Mochizuki helped the old man “affirm the 70 years of my life”? What effect does the receipt of the letter have on Mochizuki? Why does Shiori go to the film vault and find the film of Watanabe’s wife’s memory? What videotape do Shiori and Mochizuki examine afterwards? How do the two scenes compare?
- What happens as Mochizuki sits on the park bench on the set where they filmed Mr. Watanabe’s memory? Why does Shiori go nuts in the snow outside?
- How can Mochizuki keep his promise to Shiori that he will never forget this place—and thus, never forget her?
- Evaluate the ending of the film. How does it follow seamlessly from what came before? How does that last scene provide closure?
Film resource written by Robert Yahnke
Copyright, Robert E. Yahnke, © 2009
Professor, Univ. of Minnesota
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