Films at the Embassy of Japan

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Dying at a Hospital 病院で死ぬということ

Wednesday 26 October 2016 | Open 18:00 Start 18:30
Free admission. Prior registration essential.

Directed by Jun Ichikawa / 1993 / 100 min
(Japanese language with English subtitles)

Tokyo in the early 1990s. Four patients suffering from cancer come under the care of Dr Yamaoka. Hideko is at first hospitalised in the same room as her husband, but being diagnosed with lung cancer, a disease in which the hospital does not specialise, she is transferred to another hospital. Toshio is admitted to the hospital to have surgery. Feeling better afterwards, he is discharged without learning either what he was really suffering from or that the surgery was not successful. Haruyo has already undergone two operations and is increasingly fed up with hospital life. She pleads with Dr Yamaoka to tell her the truth about her illness. When she learns her condition is terminal, she asks him to let her go home and die with her family – a wish the doctor respects. Toru, a homeless man, is brought into the hospital suffering from an already advanced case of cancer. As he has no relatives, there is only a social worker to pick up his body after he dies.

This is a unique film, produced with the cooperation of medical groups. It is as much an educational film on the problem of terminal care as a fictional dramatization of the challenge of death. Based on the book with the same title by Fumio Yamazaki, a doctor working in hospice care, the director boldly interlaces documentary footage of the seasons of life with fixed, long-take, long-shot photography of the fictional hospital scenes.