What Dreams May Come, Is There A Life After Death? Essay, Research Paper
What Dreams May Come, is there a life after death? The movie What Dreams May Come gives a rather positive view on the afterlife. I think most of the ideas and views shown in the film are related to many of society’s main beliefs pertaining to death and the afterlife, but the views are left broad enough so they can relate to any specific religion. Personally, I have no concrete belief concerning the afterlife, or whether or not if there even is life after death, but I can see why many people would agree with many of the films perspectives. The movie is shown through Robin Williams’s character, Chris Nielson who’s first personal encounter with death is when his two children, Marie and Ian both die in a car accident. Four years later he dies himself after being hit by a car. After the accident, he sees himself on the ground from an outside perspective. The next thing he knows, he is able to see himself lying in a hospital bed, and at the same time there is a very gentle voice talking to him asking him if he understands the things happening to him, but at this point Chris is still very confused. In an instant, Chris is at his own funeral where he begins to see his physical body appearing around him. According to the voice means he is finally understanding that he has passed on. He then wanders his house, and is reluctant to leave his distraught wife Annie. Next, a blurry figure appears, speaking with the same gentle voice. The figure comforts him and tells him it is time to leave and basically helps him grasp his death and travel to the next world. Afterwards, Chris is willing to leave, and he suddenly finds himself running down a dark tunnel towards a light, and then he appears in a colorful world resembling one of his wife’s paintings of where their dream house is supposed to be. Here, he is reunited with his dog who had died earlier in the movie. Also, the blurry figure becomes clear and turns out to be his old doctor friend Albert, who later turns out to be Chris’s son Ian just masking himself in the physical body of Albert. This form is chosen by his son because the doctor was one of the only people Chris had ever listened to while he was alive. Albert(Ian) basically helps him understand that he is dead and that people have a soul or an identity that lives on after the physical body has passed. He learns that there is a God, and he learns of this new realm, and how everything within it is left to his power of imagination. He is told that where they are is supposed to be Chris’s version of heaven. He also learns that after death, you can choose to be reborn. Chris later meets his daughter, who has taken the physical form of an Asian girl Chris had found attractive when they were alive, and the daughter is living in a place that is supposed to be her version of heaven. The turning point in the movie is when Chris learns that his wife Annie, who he learns is his soulmate, has committed suicide. He is told that in this world, all those that kill themselves do not go where he is, but instead to more or less a hell. Albert(Ian) and Chris get a tracker, who is the real Albert, to go and find Annie. It turns out that Annie is living in her own self denial, she believes she is at fault for her two children’s deaths, and she is cursed for eternity to believe this and to never know or understand that she herself is dead. Chris manages to save her by being willing to spend an eternity with her in hell. In the end the whole family is reunited and then Chris and Annie decide to be reincarnated. I do not know what happens when we die. In this, I mean I have had no experience such as a near death experience, or have any physical proof that there is or not an afterlife. It is possible for me to comprehend the possibility of an afterlife, and understand in some aspects why many people both believe there is and is not an afterlife. Most of the movie is probably accepted by many viewers because the majority of America’s population believes there is a God. I’m also sure that many of these people probably liked the ideas in the movie because of the idea that heaven is what you make of it. I am also pretty sure that many of the same people believe that the true afterlife is not as shown in the movie. For me if there is any part of the movie I could possibly believe, it would have to be the first half of the movie, but I question the rest of the film. The beginning of What Dreams May Come is very believable because of the similarities many documented near death experiences(NDE). Raymond Moody talks about these near death experiences in his book Life After Life. According to Moody many of the NDE’s follow a similar pattern. After the person is clinically dead, they usually hear a loud sound, often a ringing. They suddenly travel through a dark tunnel towards a light. Then they see themselves from an outside view. Afterwards they are met by a deceased friend, relative or being of light that helps to calm and guide them. The being will asked them questions that make them reflect on their life. They then travel down a tunnel toward a light and feel peace and love throughout the time this experience is occurring. In the film after the car hits Chris, he is able to see himself lying on the ground, then the hospital bed. Much like a part of Moody’s description of NDE, “…he suddenly finds himself outside of his own physical body, but still in the immediate physical environment, and he sees his own body from a distance, as though he is a spectator.”(Moody p.21-22). Chris also hears Albert’s voice when he is looking at himself in the hospital bed asking him questions about if he understands what is happening. He eventually sees Albert(Ian) who has come to guide him to the afterworld and help him understand everything. This goes along with Moody’s description also, “…others come to meet and help him. He glimpses the spirits of relatives and friends who have already died, and a loving warm spirit of a kind he has never encountered before- a being of light-appears before him. This being asks him a question, nonverbally, to make him evaluate his life…”( Moody p.22). In the film, there was no being of light, but Albert(Ian), who was an old friend of Chris’s, did come to help guide him and he did in fact ask a few questions. Chris eventually travels up a dark tunnel towards a light, which also occurs in many NDE’s, but usually in the beginning opposed to the end of their experience. The last believable idea to me in this movie is that people who commit suicide go to hell (or at least some place worse than heaven). I believe this not only because killing yourself is bad in nearly every religion, but also according to Moody, a man who tried to commit suicide from a gunshot wound (after his wife died) stated, “I didn’t go where [my wife] was. I went to an awful place….I immediately saw the mistake I had made….I thought, “I wish I hadn’t done it.”(Moody p.143). And in other NDE suicides, people have said that when they were dead they felt like they were in the wrong place, and that they were going to be there forever. Everything that occurs after William’s character travels to heaven is questionable to me as I am not sure what the author based them upon(unlike the beginning of the movie, which could have at least been based on a NDE). The rest I am guessing the author based on his interpretation of the bible or any religion with God, but I still see many questions the movie left unanswered. One question I have is how are suicides decided? What if the person pays someone else to kill them? In Annie’s case, what if she went insane and then killed herself, would she still go to hell? Also, after she is saved from hell by Chris, is the author saying anyone can be saved from hell if they have a loved one willing to sacrifice their souls, What is this based on? One of my big questions was if heaven is based on your perception and imagination, then what if your idea of heaven is being with a certain person? Then would that person be a fake or a copy? Showing that there is an afterlife, shows that we have souls, so can there be copies of souls? All this could mean, maybe you don’t get everything you imagine in heaven. Another big question I was thinking of while watching the movie was that since the afterlife is based on personal experiences in the physical life, what happens if you die as a baby or while still in the womb? What experiences would your afterlife be based on if you have no idea of what heaven would be? Who would guide you there? This idea of an afterlife being based on many of your significant life experiences is constantly detectable throughout the entire film. Mainly after Chris goes to his version of heaven, and also when he sees his daughter and she has her heaven based on a toy model she had in her physical life. Another example is when she tells him her new physical appearance is based on what he had said when they were both alive. Overall, I thought this movie was pretty entertaining, especially with all the special effects. I even think the ideas about the afterlife are pretty idealistic, but I see no solid reason to believe any of it. Any part of this movie could be possible, because I(like everyone else) do not know for sure what happens after we die. However, if there is one part I can find believable, it is the first half. The part when Robin Williams first dies up to when he travels through the tunnel, because it relates to so many peoples’ near death experiences. I still think this movie left too many questions, but I would like the afterlife to be like what the movie portrayed, because I don’t plan on killing myself anytime soon, and it would be nice to know that I am going to still exist after I die and be reunited with my family.