The Last Farewell - SF Movie Funerals

by Guus
(Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

I am looking for information on SF movie funerals and mourning rites. Do you know where I can find information or examples?




From SF Movie Explorers:

Fictional though our beloved on-screen characters may be, when they die it is a sad event and we feel compelled to mourn their passing. Movie funerals render the same sense of completion that we seek in the real life.

Science fiction movies go one step further and imagine what the last farewell might look like in dystopian societies, among space travelers or inhabitants of faraway planets.

In answer to your question regarding SF funerals and mourning rituals we've put together a list of examples from various movies.

Some of the descriptions may contain spoilers as the theme is quite specific.

In imaginary futures holograms of deceased bid the last farewell to their friends (Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 1, Episode 23: Skin of Evil). Or upon tombstones, instead of pictures of the loved ones, there are flickering holograms of smiling faces the deceased (Serenity). Or the essence of a person is transferred into computers and hangs on in the computer memory as an knowledgeable adviser in the years to come (Johnny Mnemonic).

Since control and surveillance lie at the core of a dystopian society, dystopian movies such Logan's Run and Soylent Green are classic examples of how even a person's passing can be used to reinforce these notions and keep the population in line.

People in the Domed City, as we can see in the movie Logan's Run, don't get a burial. When they reach age of 30, they prepare for a death ceremony called Carrousel in which they will be renewed - born again.



In the movie Soylent Green people can chose when and how they want to shuffle off this mortal coil. They go to a parlor, designated especially for this purpose, and book their last journey. They specify what they want to see and hear while the deadly poison they are administered in the meantime stops their hearts. At first glance these arranged suicides seem a rather humane way to leave the over-polluted, overpopulated and starving world, but what happens behind the scene is kept a closely guarded secret.

SF movie travels to distant planets bring us up close and personal with variety of different cultures and customs.

Fremen are people who live in caves in deep deserts on the planet Arakis. They have a saying: "A man's flesh is his own; the water belongs to the tribe" so the deceased is turned into water using Deathstill. Before that friends and family recite what they learned from that person. As the water is valued above all other things crying - "giving water to the dead" - is greatly respected and awed. See Dune TV mini-series (2000).

Some end like water and some like fire.

Jedies who upon their death do not transform themselves into the Force are cremated on a funeral pyre Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi).

And there are aliens whose death ritual seem unsettling at first glance, but when we learn more about them it begins to make sense (Voyager
(Season 2, Episode 22: Innocence) - the Drayans culture).

Exploring alien cultures and discovering new galaxies can be dangerous and some characters never come back. They get to be buried in space.

There is something comforting when a casket is shot into space or a star. It feels not as an ending of person's journey, but more like the beginning of another one.

"From the stars we came. To the stars we return, from now until the end of time." - Babylon 5 (Season 3, Episode 11: Ceremonies of Light and Dark)

There are scenes of space burial in following science fiction movies:
Alien, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Enemy Mine, The Black Hole, Conquest of Space, Starship Troopers.

Some of those scenes are especially haunting, like in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan when Captain Kirk bids farewell to Spock:



...and some are devoid of any emotion like in Enemy Mine. Scene starts at 1:55 and ends at 3:10.



For those who will like to dig deeper into SF funerals they may find this links interesting:

Funerals - Star Trek Universe

Vulcan Culture

Fremen Funeral Rite

Funerals - Star Wars Universe



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