A Summary of the Movie “Afterlife” by Clint Eastwood
By Dr. Phil Ayers
A critic report from Wikipedia
On assignment in Thailand, French television journalist Marie Lelay (Cécile de France) becomes a victim of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami. Pulled lifeless from the water, she is resuscitated by rescuers, but not before having a near-death experience and a vision of human figures inhabiting a realm of light. Marie and her lover, Didier (Thierry Neuvic), are reunited following the disaster, and the two return to Paris. Marie's experience, however, interferes with her work performance to the point that Didier (who is also her producer) orders her to take a leave of absence.
In London, England, 12-year-old twins Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) try desperately to prevent their alcoholic, heroin-addicted mother, Jackie (Lyndsey Marshal), from losing them to child protective services. After evading the authorities yet again, the boys' mother sends Jason to the chemist (pharmacist) to pick up her prescription. On the way home, Jason is attacked by street thugs, and while trying to escape, he is hit by a van and killed. No longer able to protect his mother, and barely able to cope with life without the brother he idolizes (he insists on keeping Jason's bed in his new room and wears Jason's cap at all times), Marcus is sent to a foster home.
In San Francisco, former professional psychic George Lonnegan (Matt Damon) is persuaded against his wishes to perform a reading for his brother's, Billy (Jay Mohr), wealthy client, Christos (Richard Kind). A genuine clairvoyant with a gift for communicating with the dead, George abandoned his old career because he was unable to deal with the emotional impact of the reunions and the often disturbingly intimate family secrets revealed. While doing the reading, George hears the name June. His response denies that it means anything, but reveals to George's brother that June was the name of his late wife's nurse, who eventually became his lover.
My personal review
This review is my personal thoughts and concerns referring to this movie. I have no knowledge that the writers, producers or actors have any hidden agendas with the making of this movie. However, I feel it can have damaging effects on those with are seeking answers about the “hereafter”.
This is a classic misrepresentation of the life after death. It presents several different fronts or views of what happens to people after they die. It starts by showing a French woman dying in a tsunami. She goes to a place of peace. She feels weightless and uninhibited by time or space. It is a non conflicting place. It is a very desirable existence. She was a writer and news person, who is fighting the evils of business corruption. She is not a bad person, even though she is having an affair with her producer. In fact, she is searching for gifts for her boyfriends children when she dies. Once dead, she can see human like images walking around with a very bright light as the background, but never an exact likeness of anyone. She represents that person who is standing against the injustices of the world, but who are misunderstood and abused by the world system; the worldly minded people.
Then a young boy dies in an accident when he is hit by a truck. He is innocence of wrongdoing. He and his younger brother just had a portrait done of themselves to give to their drug addicted mother. They are very protective of their mother. The social service investigators are trying to put them in a foster home. The older brother is on the way back from getting medicine that she needs to kick her habit, when he is harassed by a street gang. His death is a result of trying to escape from them. The mother leaves for rehab and the surviving brother is placed in foster care where he is unhappy and searches for answers. He goes to several fortune tellers who are pictured as foolish. He listens to a shaman (representing religious/worldly answers- Muslin) and a silly looking Christian (representing Christ), but finds no peace. He represents the undeserving child victim of death; the innocent everyday people of the world.
The third situation is describing a man who died on the operating table several times but is saved by the doctors. He has a gift of touching the ones in the hereafter. He does not want to use the gift, because it harms his life. In fact, he looses a possible girlfriend by telling her she was abused by her father after she learns of his gift. He looses the possibility of true love because of his gift. He is portrayed as a good person who cares about people. He represents that person who is gifted by God to help the innocence – the contact person between God and man; the spiritual minded people of the world.
The surviving boy finds him and he tells him that his brother wants him to stand on his own. He saved him once already by causing his hat to fly from his head. The train his younger boy misses crashes and burns. The passed brother tells him he is cell of his cell, and they are never separated. The young boy finds the peace he is searching for in this revealed relationship and is re-united with his mother.
The French woman is denied her writing contract because she is writing about the “hereafter” in place of the life of an evil dictator. She researches the topic only to find out there is scientific proof for life after death. She feels disconnected to this world, until she meets the man with the special gift. He meets her at a reading of her new book, and they touch hands. He sees her death. Later, they meet again and when they touch hands he does not see her death experience. He and she are released from the hold of the “hereafter”. Their lives are united in oneness and they find peace.
The theme is found in the characters, being from different parts of the world, making a connection in the “hereafter” and, then, their spirit uniting with a loved one; as though they never left. The “hereafter” is seen as a permanent place of dwelling for the dead with no substance to it other than a mystical ghostly like existence (no true identity), unless a connection with the living is eternalized. Then, it would seem, that the deceased while remaining there has the reward of recognition/identity. It is characterized as a good place, but not the completion of total peace or existence. The theme indicates that more is needed- a connection with the world they left. It indicates that no one has a true picture of the “hereafter”; not the religions of the world, not the philosophies of the world, not the scientific world and not the superstitions of the world. It says, in effect, that until a person embraces the “hereafter” by listening to the other side and accepting the need of the deceased to exist with the living one, will there be contentment and happiness- a release from the fear of the unknown about death. Both the deceased and living needs this connection or else the deceased wonders forever (the boy going and coming in the vision) and the living never experience happiness. It says there is life after death, but not as philosophers and religions have taught. It introduces a concept or view of the “afterlife” as one of a connection between the deceased and the living. It pictures the four conditions of people: those who have not died, those who die and go the “hereafter” and never return bodily, those who go and return bodily, and those who have not died or gone bodily but have a connection with the “hereafter” in an active thought and revelation. All have a connection with the “hereafter”. The deceased remains in the “hereafter” but their stability is dependent on this connection with the living, a spiritual oneness. Those still living in this life are incomplete without the connection to the deceased one.
The deceased lives in the life of the living (perhaps relating to memories). Their life, too, seems to have no stability. This makes for a good story line, but is not representative of the truth of the Bible. The Bible states that the deceased goes to the presence of Christ, called “Paradise”. Later, they receive their eternal bodies, and dwell in their homes in heaven which has been prepared by Christ especially for them. They do not correspond back and forth with their loved ones in this life. Their happiness and stability has nothing to do with the living. They have purpose and are not wondering around aimlessly, as a ghostly figure. They will be known and will fellowship with each other. The only connection the living has with their deceased loved ones is their belief in the life after death based upon faith in God, and that there is a reunion in heaven (“hereafter”) someday.
This movie allows a person to feel good about death. It shows no need for acceptance of any faith or religion. It does not hold anyone who dies accountable for deeds done in life. It applies the thought that the ones left behind have the challenge of accountability for the deeds of their deceased loved one, and that the ultimate happiness in the “hereafter” is dependent upon that fact (somewhat like the purgatory doctrine of the Catholic Church). The emphasis is on this life not the “hereafter”.
The movie is not one of Eastwood’s best productions. It is a good fictional piece of work, and Eastwood would probably promote as just that, but the danger of it is like all other works of this kind. They leave the door open for people to interpret it as reality. While leaving the theater, I overheard a person (obviously an Eastwood fan) expressing his disappointment in the movie. One said he did not understand the plot. But he does not understand that people are searching for answers about life after death. This is a cleaver disguise of the devil as to what really happens to a person when they die. It is reflective of the refusal of people to accept the truths of the Bible about life after death. It eliminates the accountability of man to God and the consequences of their decisions. Decisions that must be made on Truth not fiction!