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Exploring Life and Death in The Departure - A Journey with a Punk-Rocker-Turned-Buddhist-Monk

The Departure is a poignant exploration of life, death, and resilience through the eyes of a punk-rocker-turned-Buddhist-monk

Keywords: The Departure, Lana Wilson, Ittetsu Nemoto, Buddhism, punk rock, suicide prevention, resilience, documentary. Summary: 'Heartbreaking' 'Inspiring' 'Documentary'


"The Departure," directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Lana Wilson and released in 2017, provides an intimate look into the life of Ittetsu Nemoto, a former punk rocker who became a Buddhist monk. This compelling documentary explores the theme of life and death, offering viewers a unique perspective on embracing life. The subject matter remains relevant today, as societies across the globe grapple with issues of mental health and suicide.


"The Departure" follows Nemoto in his extraordinary journey from being a punk rock enthusiast to a Buddhist monk who dedicates his life to helping suicidal individuals find a reason to live. This poignant narrative offers a raw and emotional exploration of life, death, and the human capacity for resilience.

More Film Analysis



Wilson's documentary adopts a participatory approach, drawing the audience into Nemoto's world. The research is in-depth and the exploration of the subject matter is profound. The presentation style is both engaging and thought-provoking.

Historical and Factual Context


Nemoto's work is set against the backdrop of Japan's suicide epidemic, highlighting the urgent need for mental health support in the country.

Key themes in the film

  • The sanctity and fragility of life
  • The role of spirituality in mental health
  • The power of resilience and hope in the face of despair

Film Comparisons

Unlike other documentaries available on iWonder, "The Departure" uniquely intertwines personal narrative with wider societal issues, offering a humanized perspective on mental health and suicide.

Noteworthy Moments

One of the most impactful moments in the film is when Nemoto conducts a 'death' workshop, a profound and startling exploration of life's end that deeply resonates with the audience.


Audiences and critics have praised "The Departure" for its profound exploration of life and death. The film has been described as "heartbreaking and inspiring."


"The Departure" is a powerful documentary that offers a unique perspective on life, death, and resilience. It is highly recommended for viewers interested in mental health, spirituality, and societal issues.

More film information:


  • IMDB score: 7.1
  • Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%
  • Metacritic score: 75
  • Festival awards: 4 nominations


  • Ittetsu Nemoto: A former punk rock enthusiast turned Buddhist monk who helps suicidal individuals find hope.



  • Japan: The entire documentary is set in Japan, focusing on the country's suicide crisis.

Key questions raised by the film:

  • How does spirituality influence mental health?
  • Can a person's past shape their capacity to cope with life's challenges?
  • How can society better address the issue of suicide?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. A famous book, it would be "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl, as both explore finding purpose in life amidst suffering.
  2. A famous song, it would be "Let It Be" by The Beatles, symbolising acceptance and hope.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be Edvard Munch's "The Scream," depicting the struggle with mental health.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Keanu Reeves, known for his resilience and humble lifestyle despite personal losses.
  5. A colour, it would be grey, representing the film's exploration of the grey areas of life and death.
  6. A music style, it would be punk rock, reflecting Nemoto's past and the raw, unfiltered approach of the film.