An Analysis of Daigo Through the Lens of Wolfelt: The Possession of Characteristics for a Successful Funeral Service Professional
Instructor: Rick Bilcowski
Author: Bonnie Solylo
December 10, 2012
“Departures” is an award-winning cinematic masterpiece that depicts an intricate postmortem ceremony in Japan where, before the eyes of the deceased’s family, the body is elegantly washed, made up, and “encoffined.” At the heart of the film is Daigo’s journey through life and how his reluctant acceptance of an enconffiner position leads to life altering self-discovery, understanding, and resolution. Character integrity is necessary in funeral service so that one’s words and actions, both in personal and professional life, are consistent with the values and beliefs promoted in their work. This paper will explore Daigo’s character development and communication behaviours to ascertain whether or not he has the ability to provide effective service during the encoffinment ritual. Wolfelt identifies four characteristics of a successful funeral service professional; empathy, respect, warmth and caring, and genuineness. It is not until funeral professionals achieve self-understanding and fulfillment in their own lives, that they will have the ability to truly understand and appreciate the people they set out to help. Initially in the film, Daigo struggles to cope with life’s challenges. First, Daigo reluctantly walks away from his dream of becoming a professional cellist. With no income, Daigo, out of desperation, accepts a well-paying enconfinment position. Not only does Daigo have his own personal revulsion and ingrained disgust about working with the dead, he is also faced with the opposition of his wife and friends who view encoffinment as being spiritually unclean, a common social stigma in Japanese culture. Another underlying theme in the film is Daigo’s embitterment towards his father who abandoned...