Movies to Watch as You’re Dying

by Jason Suzuki

After you get your goodbyes and last will and testimony out of the way, a good way to pass the time on your death bed would be to re-watch all your favorite films. Maybe you still have some more life in you once you’re done with that and you’re open to recommendations. If so, check out some of these films now with those impending death tinted colored glasses:

DOA (Rudolph Mate, 1951)
Frank Bigelow’s search for who slipped him a deadly dose of slow-acting poison is actually the moment he begins living. The scene where he decides to go after his killer is great, done entirely without dialogue or noir voice over, just using music and a tracking shot. Watch this film first as it might give you the jolt to do something better with the last days of your life.



After Life (Hirokazu Koreeda, 1998)
If you could only choose one moment of your life to have recreated on film so you could re-experience it for eternity in the after life what would it be? It’s something to think about for those times when you aren’t dying, but now that you are it is definitely the time to start thinking about it.





Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon, 2001)
Instead of choosing just one memory, let all of them blend together. The Setsuko Hara/Hideko Takamine character of the film, a famed actress who left the industry completely, retells her story to a documentarian who found her address. What starts as a simple retelling eventually leads to memories bleeding into one another until finally she runs through her past as if she were being chased by John Cusack inside John Malkovich’s mind.



Blind Chance (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1989)
Another film to help you evaluate whether you made the most out of your life, Kieslowski’s film posits that while aligning too much with one ideology leads to eventual stasis, doing nothing equals death. This is in direct opposition to Yojimbo in which those who stayed out of the conflict were the ones still alive by the end.




Up (Pete Docter, 2009)
Sure, the infamously heartbreaking opening sequence in which you watch two people’s lives unfold from friendship to the ups and downs of marriage is a sequence you could justify watching in your twilight hours. But it’s the message Carl receives late in the film that gives us our next cue for emotional catharsis: a reminder that all the lows and highs, despite seeming ordinary when compared to global treks, is an adventure in and of itself.




The Big Gundown (Sergio Sollima, 1968)
Because of Morricone’s score, the chances of you getting some grand exit music as you finally go are very high when you watch this.






Buried (Rodrigo Cortes, 2010)
Unless you are, be thankful you are not being killed by a metaphor for bureaucracy.






Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012)
Just a reminder that after death there is nothing.







Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957)
Kurosawa’s most didactic film. Don’t worry, when you’re gone we’ll still keep on killing each other. At least you have left this cycle of self-destruction.





Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
At 3 1/2 hours this is prime bucket list material for certain moviegoers. A film so beloved that you equally know you should see but also wont because of the praise. The film however, delivers. It’s an epic film equally thought provoking and entertaining with much to say about class, history, and the post-war era when it was made. It shows life and human interaction at its ugliest but also at its best, however short it may be. A perfect, and humanist, note to go out on.



Jason Suzuki is co-editor to Cinema Adrift.