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Death in the Family: A Personal Glimpse into the Changing Landscape of the Funeral Industry

"Death in the Family" offers a profound look into the changing dynamics of the funeral industry, exploring the tension between tradition and corporate interests.

Keywords: Funeral Industry, Family-run Businesses, Corporate Takeover, Al Jazeera, Documentary. Three words: Poignant, Informative, Thought-Provoking


"Death in the Family," directed by Rebecca Barry and released in 2017, is a compelling Al Jazeera documentary that offers an intimate look into the funeral industry. It explores how traditional family-run trades are being overtaken by big corporations, altering the way we deal with death and grief.


"Death in the Family" is an introspective journey into the heart of the funeral industry. The film follows a family deeply rooted in the trade, as they grapple with the challenges of maintaining their business amidst the growing dominance of large corporations in the industry. The documentary illuminates the tension between tradition and modernity, personal care and commercial interests, and raises profound questions about our societal attitudes towards death and mourning.

More Film Analysis


"Death in the Family" employs a sensitive and respectful approach, allowing viewers a unique perspective into a world often shrouded in mystery and taboo. The depth of exploration into the subject matter, combined with personal anecdotes and expert interviews, provides a comprehensive view of the funeral industry and its evolution.

Historical and Factual Context

The funeral industry has undergone significant transformation in recent years, with a rise in corporate ownership of funeral homes. This shift has implications not just for the industry itself, but for grieving families seeking personal, compassionate services during a time of loss.

Key themes in the film

  • Transformation of the funeral industry
  • Impact of corporate takeover on family-run businesses
  • Societal attitudes towards death and mourning

Film Comparisons

"Death in the Family" could be compared to other documentaries that explore industries undergoing significant change, such as "Food, Inc." and "The Corporation." However, its focus on the funeral industry, a sector seldom explored on film, sets it apart.

Noteworthy Moments

The film's exploration of the personal experiences of families who have been in the funeral business for generations offers a particularly poignant perspective on the industry's transformation.


This documentary has been well received for its sensitive and insightful exploration of a complex subject. According to Al Jazeera, "Death in the Family" is a "profound examination of the commercialisation of a sacred tradition."


"Death in the Family" offers a fascinating and thought-provoking insight into the changing face of the funeral industry. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in understanding the commercialisation of traditional trades and its societal implications.

More film information:


  • Genre: Documentary



  • Rebecca Barry: Director
  • Featured Family: Long-standing funeral business owners



  • Various funeral homes and locations within the funeral industry

Key Questions Raised by the Film:

  • What are the implications of the corporate takeover of the funeral industry?
  • How do societal attitudes towards death and mourning influence the funeral industry?
  • How can personal, compassionate care be ensured in an increasingly commercialised industry?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. If this film was a famous book, it would be "The Death of Bunny Munro" by Nick Cave, exploring themes of death and the human condition.
  2. If this film was a famous song, it would be "The Funeral" by Band of Horses, capturing the mix of melancholy and reflection associated with funerals.
  3. If this film was a famous piece of art, it would be "The Death of Marat" by Jacques-Louis David, symbolic of change and transformation.
  4. If this film was a famous celebrity, it would be Meryl Streep, known for her ability to bring depth and nuance to complex roles.
  5. If this film was a color, it would be black, traditionally associated with mourning and death.
  6. If this film was a music style, it would be classical - solemn, evocative and timeless.