“Mi’i waw wi’a Law”: How Nell Honors Her Dead

For about a month now I’ve been trying to recall where I’d seen a memorial rite involving placing flowers in a skull’s eye sockets, and today it suddenly came to mind. The 1994 film Nell was based on Mark Handley’s play Idioglossia and stars Jodie Foster as a young woman raised in complete isolation by her reclusive, deeply … Read more“Mi’i waw wi’a Law”: How Nell Honors Her Dead

Maya Greenwood Embodies the Reaper

In Starhawk’s ecotopian novel The Fifth Sacred Thing (1994), the pacifistic, neoPagan residents of San Francisco in the year 2048 must endure and somehow prevail over an invasion by the militaristic Stewards from the South Lands. As part of a multifaceted strategy, the San Franciscans conjure the ritual of “haunting”, in which the friends and … Read moreMaya Greenwood Embodies the Reaper

Nothing’s Forgotten; Remembering the Dead in “Robin of Sherwood”

The innovative mid-’80s TV series Robin of Sherwood incorporated aspects of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon mysticism into the Robin Hood mythos. In this scene Robin, Marion, Little John, Much, Will Scarlet and Friar Tuck – and then, to the surprise of the rest of the group, Nasir the Saracen – commemorate their fallen comrades by firing … Read moreNothing’s Forgotten; Remembering the Dead in “Robin of Sherwood”

“The Black Rabbit serves Lord Frith, but he does no more than his appointed task.”

Art Garfunkel’s song Bright Eyes, from the 1979 film adaptation of Watership Down. Author Richard Adams, who wrote the original novel, developed a fascinating matrix of “Lapine” language and a rich mythology, including tales of the Black Rabbit of InlĂ©. The Black Rabbit serves Lord Frith – essentially a deification of the sun – by … Read more“The Black Rabbit serves Lord Frith, but he does no more than his appointed task.”

A Seraphite Shrine from “The Last of Us, Part 2”

The Last of Us, Part 2 is a brutal, epic video game experience, set in a post-apocalyptic America devastated by a fungal infection that transforms humans into monsters. Death runs rampant throughout the grueling game-play, both as inflicted by and upon many of the characters and in terms of motivating a seemingly endless cycle of … Read moreA Seraphite Shrine from “The Last of Us, Part 2”

King Billy’s Funeral (“Knightriders”, 1981)

George Romero’s Knightriders is a messy, eccentric and often quite beautiful celebration of/elegy for the idealistic, bohemian spirit of the 1960s. In this, one of the final scenes, the titular troupe of motorcycle-jousting knights and their friends gather to pay tribute to their fallen “king”, Billy (memorably portrayed by Ed Harris in one of his … Read moreKing Billy’s Funeral (“Knightriders”, 1981)

The Thanatorium in “Soylent Green”

The 1973 movie Soylent Green posits a catastrophically polluted and over-populated future society in which suicide is not only legal but encouraged and facilitated by the state. In the New York City of 2022 (according to this fictional timeline), there exist institutions where people can end their lives peacefully and beautifully. In the full context … Read moreThe Thanatorium in “Soylent Green”

The Land of the Dead in Coco (2017)

In this clip from Pixar’s modern classic Coco (2017), young Miguel – having been magically and accidentally transported from a crypt in his home-town’s cemetery during el Dia de Muertos – crosses a cempasĂșchitl bridge between the worlds and first encounters the Land of the Dead. The filmmakers’ visualization of a towering, glowing necropolis in … Read moreThe Land of the Dead in Coco (2017)