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Directed by Chuck Waagen / Reviewed by Riya saha

What is death? What happens when you die? Is there life after death? What happens after death? These questions have no doubt crossed our minds. The truth is, no one knows what happens after death and those who are born do not have any knowledge of their prior existence. “On the Day That I Died” is directed by Chuck Waagen is all about a troubled man who deeply regrets taking his own life as he runs into chaos in the afterlife.

He keeps meeting different people and starts experiencing a different world.  The other World is still after him, though, but he gets a chance to experience the reason for the death of the different people, he feels that the afterlife is complete chaos. He also realized the mistake he made by killing himself.

Being dejected in love, the protagonist found no reason to live, he, therefore, killed himself. But later he realized that rejection made him deaf, he could see the other hundreds of beautiful things that were in the world. He became so engrossed and depressed with failure in his love life, he ignores the other things.

The realization happened to him only when he met the other people and encountered their life. The film is an evocative portrayal of an afterlife by the Director. It is a parable for how the true afterlife is and how we remember the people we knew and loved after they are gone. The result is a gorgeous-looking, fantastically graphic adventure that earns its biggest heartwarming moments without ever pandering to the viewers.

According to movies on the afterlife that I have come across till now, whether it’s heaven and hell, angels and devils, everything gets featured prominently. Ghosts crept into the mix too, spiritual or secular, but always with unfinished business here on Earth. It made shuffling off our mortal coil seem more like an ongoing journey than the final destination. The graphics and the sound are something to fear, and the afterlife was very much a living, breathing presence, not an absence.

 But what I loved about the film “On the Day That I Died” directed by Chuck Waagen is the simple portrayal of the afterlife with little distortion. Maybe the people present there are dead people but they do not look horrible or scary.

The film effectively focuses on a series of alternative futures produced from the past. With the pleasing dialogues and music, it is easy to fix on the film’s twinkly early charms and forget the raw desperation in the performance of the actors.

The director has evoked genuine darkness that makes “On the Day That I Died” more sweeter. It’s a wonderful film that earns its climactic tears of joy and deserves its resurrection as a beloved American independent film.

To quote the director’s statement “It is a spiritually elevating thing to create a universe and people it with characters from your dreams. In the end, you have a living document that you treasure forever.”


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