I’ve been awaiting this movie for some time since first hearing about Clint Eastwood’s project, produced by Steven Spielburg and starring Matt Damon.
Having seen it today I will try to review it while fresh in my mind. It doesn’t go too deeply into the subject matter of communication with the afterlife, yet some of the things portrayed will resonate more with Spiritualists/Survivalists and other afterlife researchers than with the layperson.
For instance there is a brief depiction of an attempt at ITC /EVP (Instrumental Transcommunication or Electrical Voice Phenomena) which is treated light-heartedly as one of the more cranky aspects, along with religious fanatics of one kind or another. This is unfair as ITC/EVP has produced some astounding scientific evidence, and many are recording voices from the afterlife, albeit without funding from the scientific establishment hence the slow progress. Some ITC/EVP devices only worked when a channeler/medium was operating it, but other methods seem to work with anybody using the right procedures.
The film was rather slow, with three separate stories which interconnect in a rather contrived way at the end. I found the happy ending rather too over-sentimental and nothing really to do with the main storyline. However several important points were made in the film.
One was how the whole subject of the afterlife and communication with it is taboo in medical and orthodox scientific circles. This was referred to as the ‘Conspiracy of Silence’. A bit of an exaggeration as there is plenty to be found on the Internet and on various TV programs, in books, etc. However without doubt in medical and orthodox scientific circles there is a conspiracy of silence and of ignoring such matters.
There are several reasons for this. One is the false assumption that intelligent people must give no credence to the idea of an afterlife. Another, relevant to the medical profession, is that all mention of death is taboo, along with anything which could be interpreted as endorsing a religious belief in the afterlife. The film mentioned the very accurate observation that staff of hospices, for instance, are very aware of visions, etc. seen by those near death, but keep such things to themselves. They evidently feel it could offend atheists, agnostics, religious people and the medical profession itself to talk about such things, even when on occasions the visions have also apparently been witnessed by staff in the hospices concerned.
The subject is taboo for orthodox scientists because accepting the afterlife would upset many of the current accepted theories, and this would badly affect their research funding. Indeed the main reason why scientific study of afterlife communication makes relatively slow progress is this inability to obtain funding from within the orthodox scientific establishment. So scientists who do investigate have to largely fund their own research, and the Internet is an invaluable tool for publicizing their findings.
The film also showed that there are good and bad mediums and channelers. One woman medium in the film performing in front of a group got the initial letter right of the deceased’s first name, but was clearly guessing the rest (incorrectly) by making false assumptions. When a young boy accepted the initial as being that of a deceased male, she just assumed it must be an older person, possibly his father since he was obviously quite upset. In fact it was his twin brother. This is typical of mediums who guess and make assumptions. Interpretation of spirit communications is not easy.
I know of one case, related by one of the late Leslie Flint’s Direct Voice spirits which he channeled, in which a medium on being given the image of the ladder from which he fell to his death relays to his widow in the audience that she saw ‘the ladder of success’. A good medium would only give what he or she saw or heard, and would not make assumptions.
The visions of the afterlife in the film were blurry, and some of the problems encountered by mediums/channelers were brought out but rather exaggerated. The leading character, played by Matt Damon, describing it as a ‘curse’ rather than a ‘gift’. The gift certainly needs to be controlled, and a good medium will be careful about relaying sensitive information. This is depicted in the film when Damon relays to a female sitter that her father apologized for sexually abusing her, and she finds this too hard to take and breaks off all contact with Damon, with whom a romatic relationship was developing.
A woman journalist who has a near-death experience and writes a book about it is at first condemned by her employers, and has to fight to get her book published.
So I would say this is a good attempt at dealing with the subject of the afterlife in a non-sensational manner. No ghosts or poltergeist-type activity, but perhaps a little too low-key and downbeat. For instance, when the little boy finally gets a positive contact with his deceased twin via the Damon character, he is told he is now on his own. An incident when his deceased brother saved him from the London Tube bombings is described as ‘the last time’ his brother would look out for him, and he was also told not to wear his twin brother’s baseball cap. Both these messages are most unlikely, since spirits close to us stay close, and would usually be pleased if we were wearing something which once belonged to them.
Damon then tells the boy he has no idea where his twin brother is, which is also inaccurate. Any good medium would be able to give much more comforting reassurance that the loved ones of most people are very close in the Spiritual realms, sometimes described as ‘in the next room’. In a universe invisible to most of us because it vibrates at a slightly higher rate.
All this is compatible with Quantum Physics which also postulates various dimensions or universes in the same space, but invisible to us because they are on different frequencies.
So a brave attempt at a non-sensational film about the ‘hereafter’ but I’d have liked a little more meat and less pessimism on behalf of the leading Damon character George who saw the whole psychic gift he had as just a ‘curse’.