Shinto and Buddhist Metaphors in Departures

  • Author(s): Yoshiko Okuyama
  • When: 2013-04
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • Cinematic language is rich in examples of religious metaphors. One Japanese film that contains religious "tropes" (figurative language) is the 2008 human drama, Departures. This paper focuses on the analysis of religious metaphors encoded in select film shots, using semiotics as the theoretical framework for film analysis. The specific metaphors discussed in the paper are the Shinto view of death as defilement and Buddhist practices associated with the metaphor of the journey to the afterlife. The purpose of this paper is to augment the previous reviews of Departures by explicating these religious signs hidden in the film.

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