The film Nine Days is a beautiful, haunting, existential, and ultimately inspiring movie that seeks to wake everyone up from the slumber that arises from the relentless pursuits of our goal-oriented culture.
The film was written and directed by Edson Oda and was his first screenplay. Prior to writing the script, Edson didn't think of himself as a writer at all, and if I recall correctly he partially wrote it as a personal challenge to see if he could write anything at all. Plus, he's Japanese Brazilian, and English is not his native language. This all seems to make Edson out to be an unlikely hero.
Here's a summary of the movie, in Edson's own words:
When asked about the origin of the movie, what inspired it, he said the following:
Edson has given different responses to the question of what the inspiration was for the movie (from the looks of it, he did an awful lot of interviews and perhaps experienced some interview fatigue). Here's a different answer:
Head's up: this section has spoiler information contained within. Caveat reader!
One of my favorite themes of the movie is an internal struggle that haunts Will throughout. Apparently, he's the only character in the movie that's been alive before. He was a soul, he applied to be born via the nine-day interview process, he was selected, and he was subsequently born to begin his human experience.
Apparently (and there's not a lot of backstory given to this detail), the feelings of people who have been alive before are deeper, and more visceral, than those of the souls (who have not yet been alive). Because Will has been alive, he understands the depth and realness of potential feelings he might now experience, and so he goes to great lengths to avoid experiencing them again, because "They might remind me of what it's like to be alive".
What I love about this theme is that Will's suppression of what he really feels (what he really loves) is thinly veiled indeed. Here are some clues:
I find this theme to be brilliant. It's almost like Edson is daring us to ask ourselves "What do you care about? What is it that you feel deeply, and why?".
In the end, Will achieves a catharsis. He acts again, and feels once again, as he did when he was alive. It's easily the most powerful scene in the movie and allows the movie to reach it's triumphant goal of getting us to ask ourselves "Why am I alive?"
I love so many scenes in this movie, from the simple and funny (e.g.: when Alexander says to Will "You really like those two colors, don't you?") to the more dramatic (when you can see the spit fly out of Will's mouth when he shouts "Pull the chair!"), and while I've never attempted to write a movie review, here are some of things I loved about Nine Days:
(These are in no particular order)
BTW: I have a theory about the name of the character Kyo. In Japanese, the number nine in romaji is written as "kyou" (きゅう in hiragana), and during the movie, Kyo's name is alternatively pronounced "kyo" and "kyu" .. but either way, his name is based on the number nine (recall that Edson is Japanese).
(These are in no particular order either...)
The last scene in this movie should have earned Winston Duke some serious accolades. It's a beautiful scene, and I love the part where Emma joins in with him both to scream and to march with flailing arms. The last three lines are as perfect as dialog gets, and remind me of people I've known and cared about who have passed away, and how much I miss them.
Have you ever reckoned the earth much?
Spend this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems.
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and I loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood,
Born here, from parents born here.
And their parents the same,
as their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old and in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine,
My inspiration and respiration, the passing of air and blood through my lungs,
The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, the reaching around of arms,
The play of the light and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides,
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and greeting the sun.
The last scud of sun holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and as true as any on the shadowed wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I depart as air,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
And to die is different than anyone supposed, and luckier.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to
grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who
I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop someplace waiting for you.