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Scattering Ashes in the Movies

The plenty of films about marriage, numerous ones on birth and some on funerals and the strange part about it is (and my thinking has not been base on any scientific approach) these tend to be dark comedies or aimed to pluck at heart strings. What is also significant, to my rather subjective mind, is that the ones on death tend to focus around a burial. If I ask you to cast a mental image I would think about 90% tend to have the big mahogany coffin, being buried in the rain.  Is this not a bit odd if most of us are cremated – I guess burial with all the trimmings tends to be a bit more cinematic, maybe? But what about scattering?

Being connected to the all thing scattering, people often like to pass snippets my way, have seen x or y. Recently someone asked me what I thought of the ‘The Way’ the film with Martin Sheen, when I professed never to have seen of it, I got that ‘look’ meaning ‘Pah! Thought you were the expert’. So I did some thinking, some watching and some digging for films about scattering ashes. So here you go:


  • The Way – this is actually a really inspirational story about friends, family and the challenges of the modern world. Martin Sheen plays the part of Tom a doctor who goes to collect the ashes of his son who died in an accident while walking the Camino de Santiago, also known as or The Way of Saint James. Rather than return home, Tom decides to take on the historical pilgrimage to honour his son’s desire to finish the journey. What Tom didn’t realise is that after meeting characters along the journey which will impact him in terms of the way he lives his life. The four people he hooks up with along “The Way,” are an unlikely group who create a firm bond. And through the film Tom considers the unresolved relationship with his son and he discovers the difference between “the life we live and the life we choose.”  The Way


  • Last Orders – I really liked this film and whilst it has not got the grand vistas of the ‘The Way’ it is small and powerful. The plot is around a London butcher – Jack Dodd who enjoyed a pint with his mates. When he died his ‘Last Orders’ were that his ashes should be scattered in the sea at Margate. The movie follows his mates, Ray, Lenny and Vic and his son Vince as they journey to the sea with the ashes. Along the way, the threads of their lives, their loves and their disappointments are woven together in their memories of Jack and his wife Amy (whom I don’t recall we ever see!)


  • Last stop for Paul – Again a different angle – friends who have lost a mate before his time and the two central characters Charlie and Cliff decide they want to go to the Full Moon party in Thailand. As they go from country to country they meet a wide variety of odd people and have mad adventures sprinkling the ashes of their friend Paul along the journey.


  • The Pond – This one I haven’t seen. So it is a bit of an outside bet. A heartbroken young woman sets about scattering her husband’s ashes on the pond in an apple orchard they both loved. But the waters of the pond hold a secret, and when a stranger appears out of the blue, her world is thrown into chaos and she must choose between sacrifice and oblivion. Ok Ok this sound like a bit of a pup and ashes content a ruse, but it did win a number of awards. I  will update the post once I have watched it …


  • Lastly and the premise is not about solely scattering ashes, but the final poignant since is. The film is called When Did You Last See Your Father, the scene at the end which has Colin Firth firstly licking his ash covered finger! Then he with his three sisters are shown scattering handfuls of ash – they don’t seem to mind, in fact they are quite happy about, the ash getting all over them. This director is tugging furiously away at your heart strings with children playing and a rare balmy warm English summer evening. However, I have to say I was pleased by the way he challenged convention about our contact with ashes, ordinarily the objective it to have no physical contact with them at all. But, there are no rules, no conventions that must be adhered to, it is about celebrating the life of a loved one and doing it in a manner the works for you.

In conclusion, the films (again haven’t seen The Pond) tend to be life affirming, celebration, reflective – good, just so.  And if you have watched they and you want to rant or praise them – feel free.

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