Ahorn | Monday February 19th, 2018
DIE TOMORROW – The forum post has not only immersed our film critic Andrew Horn in an emotional limbo, but has also uncovered memories of days long gone with song lyrics such as “today is the first day of the rest of your life.”. But – as Andrew Horn rightly remarks “but we shouldn’t forget, it could also be the last”. But read for yourself:
It seems that this years selection of films at the Berlinale is full of stories of sadness, suffering, conflict and death. So it’s kind of an interesting surprise that a film called DIE TOMORROW, would actually be uplifting.
Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s film, is, as the name indicates, very much about death – different kinds of death, different views of death, and how it can come slowly and inevitably, or suddenly and unexpectedly – sometimes dramatically and sometimes not.
The film is made up of a collection of stories inspired by newspaper clippings that the director had collected. Some are presented in the form of statistics, like the fact that mayflies are born and die in one day, giving them the shortest lifespan on earth. Or a list of the top ten ways people commit suicide (shotgun to the head being #1). Or the fact that there are 7220 deaths per hour, meaning 2 deaths per second. Some are introduced in the form of photos that could have been taken on a phone or found on Facebook – a beach, a dog, a man snoozing on a porch in a garden. It’s not till later that we realized why they’re there.
Some of the stories he turned into scenes between two or more people shot in single takes – some even shot as if they were recorded by an unseen friend on their phone. These six scenes are presented as mundane dialogues that may at first seem to have no significance until it becomes clear that someone related to the story will die. And this need not always be someone in the scene itself. In many cases, the deaths come as a result of some random action, some decision, some way of placing one’s self in what ultimately turns out to be at a wrong place at a wrong time. It can also be deliberate, or it can be just giving in to the inevitable.
These scenes are mixed in with two re-occurring interviews, one with a little boy whose idea of death comes from things he got on the Internet, and the other with a man celebrating his 102nd birthday. Each has their own ideas of what it means to them, and neither one’s ideas are mutually exclusive.
Despite the fact that the film speaks constantly about death and dying, it somehow doesn’t come off as depressing. The director says that he specifically didn’t want to sentimentalize death, rather to think about it as “just one process that we all have to get through”. While of course the overall effect is one of sadness, that sadness also comes with a kind of a transcendental feeling.
The one arguably false note is that while the movie does not sentimentalize, it does somewhat romanticize. It speaks a lot about dying but only briefly about pain and suffering, and death only happens off-stage. Real life is not so bitter sweet. But maybe the message is to keep in mind a sense of the urgency that life has, or should have. There is that old hippy saying, “today is the first day of the rest of your life.” But we shouldn’t forget, it could also be the last.