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My Top Movie Recommendation About the Afterlife
I’m recommending a movie that most accurately portrays near-death experience, mediumship, and the desire to connect with loved ones in spirit.
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Many of you read my articles because of my investigation of life after death, so I thought I’d recommend a movie that I feel most accurately portrays the details correctly. It’s not a new movie, but you might not have been interested when it first came out. Even if you’ve seen it, watching it again years later might take on new meaning for you, especially if you’ve been learning about the afterlife in recent years.
Melissa and I saw the movie Hereafter when it first came out in 2010, and I must say we loved it. I’ll even admit that we saw it a second time the next night, which is entirely out of character for us. But there’s something about this movie that inspired us to want to see it again, and it’s the same reason I’m reviewing it here. There have been a lot of good movies about the afterlife, but this is one that didn’t sacrifice truth for sensationalism, which is why I’m telling you about it now.
Hereafter, the movie, stars Matt Damon, and was directed and produced by Clint Eastwood (also produced by Steven Spielberg), and was written by Peter Morgan (The Crown, The Queen, Frost/Nixon). With a lineup like that, you’d expect it to be a good movie. But it’s important to know what this movie is and is not about before you see it, which is why I’ve written this review.
Hereafter is a movie about death and the afterlife. It tells three stories. One of a medium who feels burdened by his ability to communicate with spirits. The second of a woman who has a near-death experience during a tsunami. And the third story is about a boy who’s trying to make sense of the loss of a loved one. Any one of these three storylines could have made a fascinating movie, but teaming the three together was inspired.
Hereafter is not a movie that provides definitive answers about the afterlife. Neither Clint Eastwood nor Peter Morgan claim to have any such answers. If that’s what you’re seeking, you’re best to get answers through personal experience. I recommend a private reading with a medium (spirit communicator), a past-life regression, a life-between-lives regression (also known as a spiritual regression), or getting a portrait drawn of your deceased loved one in spirit by a spirit artist.
This is not your typical Hollywood movie filled with violence, action, sex, and rock ’n’ roll. After the initial tsunami scene at the beginning of the movie—one of only two fast-moving scenes in the film—Hereafter’s pace is unhurried. I use the word “unhurried” because I happened to appreciate the movie’s pace, but some people might employ the word “slow.” I have no doubt that this unhurried tone was implemented with purpose, as the slowness and quietude of the filming sets the mood for a story about the hereafter.
Moreover, the filmmaking is extraordinary if you like that foreign-film quality, which I do. Eastwood is exercising his artistic expression in mood and visual splendor. No shot was filmed without careful attention to artistic detail. The style of filming is visually appealing as the story highlights scenes in London, India, San Francisco, Switzerland, and Paris.
What I loved most about the movie was that someone did their research and got their details correct about the field of afterlife evidence. Matt Damon, for example, plays the medium. The readings given by Damon’s character are right on the mark. I’ve tested many mediums who gave me readings exactly in this same style and manner. There was nothing overcooked or methodologically inaccurate in the character’s portrayal of mediumship (spirit communication), although the readings were shorter than the typical 30-to-60-minute readings most people schedule.
Although Damon’s character literally touches people in order to receive his insights, it should be noted that most mediums don’t need to touch you in order to give a reading, which is why readings can be delivered by phone. While there are mediums who might like to hold your hands prior to a reading, this isn’t a necessary or even common approach. Also, Damon’s character tended to express a slight jolt in his body whenever he touched someone to make a connection with spirit, which doesn’t really occur with mediumship. This is minor in importance, and it’s the only Hollywood exaggeration I noticed in the movie, which exists to show Damon’s character made an intuitive connection.
With all I’ve written thus far about Damon’s portrayal of a medium, it’s important to emphasize that this is not a movie about mediums. I’ve talked to a few mediums who have seen Hereafter and the most common comment from them is that they felt the movie could have presented more information about mediumship. I would have agreed if this movie was about mediums, but it’s not. This movie is about the question of life after death and it merely uses a medium as a character within the story.
I’m sure that if I talked with people who have had near-death experiences, they too would feel that the movie could have done more to educate the public about near-death experiences. But this is not a movie about near-death experiences either. It merely uses a character who has a near-death experience to tell a story about death and the afterlife.
Since I’m discussing what this movie is not, I should also mention that Hereafter is not a movie whose primary intention is to cleverly bring three people’s lives from three different countries together. The three characters’ lives do intertwine in Hereafter, but in a manner that is more realistic to real life and less contrived in the way Hollywood often portrays in movies. These seemingly random connections happen frequently throughout our lives whether we notice them or not. What the film accurately demonstrates is that if we pay attention to these connections, we can notice the significant impact they have on our lives.
Hereafter is a movie about the complications of being gifted, about processing spiritual experiences, and about connecting with loved ones in spirit. Without giving too much of the movie away, the medium views his gift as a curse, the woman who had the near-death experience is challenged with people not believing what she experienced, and later with sharing her experience publicly without ruining her career. There’s also a boy character who is emotionally desperate for a connection with his deceased loved one yet has difficulty finding a legitimate spiritual practitioner to help him.
This is the brilliance of Hereafter, as these are the true challenges of everyday people in real life who are faced with these same experiences.
I know many mediums will relate to the struggle of Damon’s character, at least at some point along their journey. A psychic’s or medium’s predicament to ignore his or her ability in order to live a normal life is typical. I compare this to the dilemma of fame. At first it feels like a blessing, but too much too fast can feel like a curse.
New psychics and mediums generally love the attention they get due to their gift when they first begin giving readings. Over time, however, as they grow professionally and become more well known, they often learn to be less forthright about their vocation with strangers, tending to dance around the subject until they get a stronger sense of one’s religious beliefs or open-mindedness about these abilities. I haven’t met many psychics or mediums who outright ignore their ability in order to live normally (as Damon’s character attempts to do); but, then again, I guess I probably wouldn’t meet them if they were keeping their abilities secret.
Cécile de France plays the woman who dies and comes back to life during the tsunami (the near-death experience). The movie illustrates with accuracy the challenges wrought after having a near-death experience. The number one challenge for people who have died for seconds or minutes, experienced the afterlife, and then returned to their physical bodies after being revived, is not being believed by others once they share their afterlife experiences openly. Instead, near-death experiencers are too often met with skepticism and even scorn for talking about their experiences out loud. The movie even demonstrates how near-death experiencers often find that their values have changed, which can derail their plans for the future. Although subtle in its approach, Hereaftertouches upon these life-changing consequences with precision.
As for the boy’s story, anyone who knows grief will likely relate to this young man’s struggle. What I loved most about it was how the boy visited a handful of spiritual practitioners and was unsuccessful in finding one who he truly believed was making a connection with his loved one in the afterlife. I had similar experiences in the early days of my own investigation of this field. When you don’t know where to go or who is legitimate, you bounce around like a pinball hoping to smack into a credible practitioner. It’s why I created Best Psychic Directory after I’d tested hundreds of readers—to help people find credible and reputable psychics and mediums without having to become an expert. Even more than the boy’s journey, I like that the filmmakers leave the interpretation up to the viewer as to whether these spiritual practitioners are merely inadequately gifted or flat-out phonies. The truth is that it’s not always easy to know.
Any experienced moviegoer will know that the three characters are destined to cross paths at some point in the movie, but, as I mentioned, this is not the magic of this film, although it does a decent job in this regard. As much as people love seeing the clever ways that people cross paths along their journeys, this movie crosses much higher mountains. It suggests that there really are truly gifted mediums in this world in spite of a few charlatans. It suggests that there might actually be an afterlife as evidenced by people who have had near-death experiences. And it suggests that if you are persistent enough in your efforts, you might actually be able to find a way to connect with your loved ones in spirit. That’s a lot to accomplish for two hours of film, and while many people will wish it answered more of their questions about life after death, I think that Eastwood and Morgan were insightful to not even try.
Hereafter is a controversial movie with viewers either loving it (for the reasons that I do) or feeling disappointed by it (for not going far enough with definitive answers). There aren’t too many viewers who fall in the middle. But it’s not the filmmakers who let anyone down. People who feel disappointed by the movie allowed their expectations to let them down, not because the movie promised to do anything more than tell a great story and get people thinking, but because people crave to know the truth about life after death and look to others to provide the answers. Many hope Hereafter will do that for them.
The second time Melissa and I went to see Hereafter, we went with a bunch of friends. During dinner before the movie, there was much discussion about death. People were sharing stories amongst the group about the details of their parents’ deaths, and this was before they saw the movie. Little did they realize that the movie had already succeeded to incite discussions about a subject that is traditionally unspoken in our society. And for that reason alone—notwithstanding the beauty in both story and filmmaking—the movie is a huge success in my point of view.
I highly recommend it to those of you who have read my books, read my articles, or watched my videos on Afterlife TV. If you’ve seen it before, I hope you’ll watch it again and let me know how you viewed it differently due to your increased insights about life after death.
Sending you love,
Bob Olson is the host of Afterlife TV, author of two books, Answers About The Afterlife and The Magic Mala, and creator of the directory of psychics and mediums, BestPsychicDirectory.com. His newest venture is Bob Olson Connect, where you can read Bob’s stories and articles before they become books. Click here to view free and paid options.
PS, A little research about the film uncovered an interesting side story. The writer, Peter Morgan, wrote the script and then threw it in a drawer thinking it needed work. A few years later, a close friend of Morgan’s died in a skiing accident. It was this loss that got Morgan thinking about life after death, which inspired him to pull the script out of his desk and send it to his agent. The agent sent it to someone who sent it to Steven Spielberg who, then, sent it to Clint Eastwood. Eastwood instantly loved it. Although Morgan expected to rewrite it, Eastwood thought the script was perfect the way Morgan had written it. You can read the interview with Peter Morgan here.
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