Forever: A Film by Heddy Honigmann

12 Jun

Have you seen Beetlejuice before?  I have and so many times that I can quote it for you.

Barbara (Geena Davis): Adam, is this what happens when you die?
Receptionist:
That is what happens when you die, that is what happens when he dies and that is what happens when they die. It’s all very personal.

It is indeed very personal.  The film Forever shows the life of a cemetery, Paris’s famed Pierre Lachaise.  As I mentioned before, we are planning to visit this cemetery when we are in France.  And in this film you see many others who visit the artists who live there.  They tend the graves, they share their connections and they extend the life of those who have passed on by remembering them.

As a cartoonist in the film says, art can mean eternity for the artist.  By visiting Modigliani’s paintings in the Louvre, playing Chopin on the piano or listening to Maria Calais sing we are keeping these individuals alive.  And it isn’t just the famous people who stay with us.  Every time I tell someone about how Mom used to devour books I am extending her stay on earth.

Loss and grieving is all very unique.  It is different from person to person and from one moment to the next.  An embalmer interviewed in the film has closed tear ducts and cannot cry.  There are more than tears to share for those who have left.  Like our reaction to loss, I feel that this documentary will be experienced differently by those who see it but I’d definitely recommend it.  My favorite part was seeing how mourners chose to decorate the graves.  Artists receive paintbrushes, writers a pen, cherry pits in the eyes of a carved owl or the traditional and beloved flowers. 

The women who cleaned the sites with water brought from home were truly touching.  I just wish that someone would wipe all of those lipstick kisses off Oscar Wilde’s grave.  The rumor is that kissing the large stone statue will bring you luck in love.  Oscar was not lucky in love; it’s close to say he was cursed.  I’m unsure how his misfortune and Maybelline will change anything but then again we’re all bound to see things a little bit differently, especially where death is concerned.

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