Dick Johnson is Dead on Netflix is a wishful documentation of life.
It was Sunday afternoon, I had to edit a Podcast episode, I had to write an essay. There was too much work, I decided to stop watching ‘The Woman in the House Across the street from the Girl in the Window’ and complete some work, while shutting down Netflix I clicked on the documentary ‘Dick Johnson is Dead.’ I had to stop everything…I watched the Documentary; it was a reckless decision and there was a sense of guilt and an over-dominating sense of pleasure from it. The feeling was almost ironic I felt life in me while watching a documentary purely about Death.
Death is inevitable, you cannot control it just like a sickness. But not like sickness Death only takes a part of you… Dick Johnson’s Death is inevitable, just like my death or yours. Filmmaker and daughter Kristen Johnson knew that and to make the pain less painful she proposed to her father the idea of filming his last years. There is no portrayal of existential angst, but there is always a push against the notion of grief. The concept of death is a fundamental adjunct of Schopenhauer’s metaphysics of appearance and will. Schopenhauer interprets death as the aim and purpose of life. Dick Johnson throughout the film dies several times, at last in the cupboard where Kristen Johnson is recording her thoughts, she says “All I know is that Dick Johnson is dead, All I can say is Dick Johnson is dead. And all I want to say is long live, Dick Johnson.”
As her father nears the end of his life, filmmaker Kirsten Johnson stages his death in inventive and comical ways to help them both face the inevitable.
According to Thomas Nagel, Death is an unequivocal and permanent end of our existence. Murakami also said, “Just because there is an end, doesn’t mean existence has a meaning”. There have been infinite interpretations of death and logically so in a world that’s so old, we still are not sure of what it means. I like many others believe that Consciousness does not survive death in any way. ‘Archive 81’ on Netflix also surfs on the issue of Death, People surpassing boundaries to get back the people who’ve died. It makes death look like a horror inclination of oneself and a slip into loneliness and madness.
The Thing About the film that is disturbing is it’s both, life-affirming melancholy and defeatist and despondent tragedy. We are born in a horrible world, It’s our basic biological need to control basic anxiety and understand that, we deny the terror of death. The relatability to the film is also important to truly be horrified by it. I cannot imagine a posthumous child enjoying this film. I want to celebrate death, but it’s a grueling conclusion of love that makes me terrified of it.
There is a strange oscillation in this documentary between death and life. In the fake memorial of Dick Johnson, when his best friend is giving the speech, he says that Dick once told him if he outlives Dick, he has to play a song, He breaks down In between. The scene has the power to make you feel grief. There have been moments in the film, where I’ve laughed guiltily, Where I’ve understood that I don’t understand what going away really means. The film had broken me into pieces and it has pieced me back. And it does more to you than explain the moral dilemmas and obligation. This piece needs to be incomplete for the sake of nature and its aesthetics and…
Post. Piece. Note.
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