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Get a life, George! A Review of the Movie "Hereafter"



This movie reminds of the time a friend scowled at me and said,“I think you are spending too much time with the dead.”  While I wasn’t having any problem with the time I spent communicating with the dead, my friend was.  She wasn’t a spirit medium or a near death experiencer. She also had unresolved feelings of grief for a man she loved who was murdered on the street outside a bar. Feelings she had held onto for over a decade.


“Hereafter” is a much darker and conflicted movie about spirit mediumship, near death experiences, and crossing over than the reality is for me as a spirit medium and near death experiencer.  Likewise, the main character, an evidential spirit medium and near death experiencer named George Lonergan, is more conflicted about his psychic and mediumship gifts than he needs to be, or would be at his level of skill and experience in reality. 


While I can relate (historically) to some conflicted aspectsof the life of George as a single person who is also a spirit medium, (What do you tell people about what you do for work?  How can you expect them to react to the information that you are a psychic?   Well,maybe it’s just better not to tell people at all, and maybe it’s better yet to just not date at all....) I can’t relate to the life George lives as a person who is a spirit medium and a near death experiencer.


Here is why: 


George has no friends other than his brother who wants to promote him as a spirit medium when he doesn’t flat out want to use him to gain clients for his own business. He doesn’t have a girlfriend because he finds physical touch disturbing when it activates his connection to the spirit world (a form of psychometry, a skill that is controllable)and he finds it too disturbing to have to share and explain his gift to (the potential) people in his life who do not come to him as clients.  George also has no pets and no plants in his apartment.

 

In short, George has no life.


The story takes George so far out on the socially disenfranchised worldview and career path limb that it makes him a cartoonish caricature of the negative aspects of being a spirit medium and near death experiencer (NDE-er).


While boundary setting and psychic, emotional, and physical energy maintenance are important for a working spirit medium and the movie accurately addresses these issues (i.e., not being easily available by phone, holding sessions with only 2 to 3 clients per day, being selective about the people and energies you allow in your space.)  It is also important to a working spirit medium to have a life.  Being a near death experiencer and a spirit medium does not mean that you become less interested in being alive, or have less of a life.  It doesn’t mean you become tortured by the grief of others, or eschew contact with other living beings.


It does mean that your view of life, physical and spiritual, is different.  Life is more expansive and more brilliant than you realized it was before.  Life is everywhere, eternal and wonderful.


While “Hereafter” could have taken us closer to the reality of near death experiences and spirit mediumship by being lighter in tone and by being less negative about “the plight” of socially disenfranchised, western worldview challenging spirit mediums and near death experiencers, it does address some of the typical issues that NDE-ers and spirit mediums have. 


For example, if you die and come back – you may feel less physical, the things you once thought were important may seem much less important, the life you had before your near death experience may not engage you the way it once did, and you may sometimes feel you are just “killing time”before the actual event.  All of these issues are addressed in the character of Marie Lelay, who has a near death experience as she is swept away in the flood waters of the Southeast Asian Tsunami. 


But while “Hereafter” adequately addresses some of the issues surrounding the experience of near death, it does not adequately address the experience.  Marie’s near death visions of life in the spiritual realm are hazy, non-descript and un-defined.  This depiction runs counter to the extreme clarity of experience many NDE-ers report.  Marie makes no mention of unconditional love, expanded understanding of reality, bliss or being light – just her vague feeling of “something happened to me”  and we see her experience as fuzzy images of people and lights on some unfocused plain between dark and light. 


While this hazy, non-descript, “something undefined” vision of a near death experience may be thought to be less threatening and more palatable to the scientific or religious worldviews of most moviegoers by the filmmakers, Peter Morgan, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg and Frank Marshall, it isn’t really that much like a near death experience.  In no way, shape, or form, would I ever describe my own near death experience as being hazy, fuzzy, non-descript or undefined.  It was the clearest conscious experience I have ever had.


Similarly, George, our spirit medium NDE-er, never went through the “curious three year old” developmental stage of being a spirit medium.  Apparently he never bothered to ask “Why?” or “What?” or “How?” so he remains in the dark and tortured by his situation.


So I have to wonder, are Marie and George meant to be an NDE-er and a Spirit Medium NDE-er, or are they meant to play shades of pseudo-characters who represent all of the people in the world who feel troubled when forced to ask direct and pertinent questions about death and what happens when we die?  Are they only presented to us as archetypal reminders to the fact that human beings emotionally struggle with death, grieving and loss?


Or are they just sad, disenfranchised, “freaks” on the fringes of self and social acceptance?

 

I think Peter Morgan (the writer) tries to make George and Marie tell a story that is not theirs to tell. A story about how most people deal, or don’t deal, with living through both life and death.


So, what story does “Hereafter” tell very well? 


The story of Marcus and Jason, two identical twin brothers who are separated by accidental death.  Asa spirit medium, what comes to the forefront for me in sessions is the simple yet powerful nature of relationship between loved ones.  Though Marcus and Jason are seemingly two unimportant children of a single dysfunctional parent… the movie elegantly shows their love and care for each other and for their mother.  This love and care makes them, and their story, important.  Their story is so well done that I can easily forgive the hazy, undefined, dark, and sad nature of the rest of the movie.


To understand why I do evidential spirit mediumship as an NDE-er, all you need to do is experience the story of Marcus and Jason.   That sums it all up.


So, how will I rate this movie?


When I experienced my first spirit mediumship sitting, a neighbor in spirit, who had taken care of me as a small child, showed up with a Magic 8-Ball in her hands and kept shaking the eight ball and turning it up to see what it predicted, then she pointed to me and laughed.

 

Since Siskel and Ebert have already cornered the market on thumbs up and thumbs down movie ratings, I am going to use the Magic 8-Ball.   


Question: Will you like “Hereafter” if you see it?    

Magic 8-Ball answer: Yes.

 

 


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