A fierce look at the banality of death. In Palma de Mallorca, there lies a dense multi-level cemetery city, an overwhelming palace of winding catacombs, crypts, and gravestones, piled as high as the eye can see. Inside the gates, mourners intertwine with gardeners, coroners, casket hawkers, and even some itinerant beer drinkers who take refuge in the endless haunted hallways. Intimate snippets of life show us the daily grind of the modern funeral industry, satisfying every morbid curiosity. Existential water cooler talk and gallows humour is standard for cemetery workers as they prepare bodies and remove old caskets from tombs, while playfully discussing the afterlife, armageddon, and the benefits of cremation. Director Miguel Eek asks us to abandon sentimentality in order to ponder the more functional aspects of death.
The cemetery itself is beautifully captured at a slow pace, allowing us to absorb the spectacular scenery of this dizzying maze where bereavement occurs but the dead live on. As you’d expect from a film about funerals, City of the Dead is brimming with flowers, memories, prayers, and grief. But what it demonstrates most elegantly is that it’s the person who sweeps up, trims hedges, or pulls a rib cage out of a fresh corpse that truly allows the circle of life to continue. Overall, the unsettling ease with which death is handled makes us question our importance in the universe. Not for the faint of heart. -MJ
Runtime: 56 mins
Director: Miguel Eek