User Reviews (1)

Add a Review

  • Karl meanders through Africa and Asia, visiting in on funerals, grave-sites, cemeteries and mausoleums. How do these different cultures deal with and treat the dead? And how will Karl reflect on their rites and ceremonies? Karl's primary 'moan' in this episode is that the dead are taking up precious land - land that the living could be making good use of. From this point, we see Karl get his hands dirty with the deceased almost immediately. He tends to the preparation of a one-month long deceased Ghana woman; making her up, maneuvering the corpse to new positions, and presenting her to the mourners in a life-like pose. This latter part, Karl notes, is like moving a mattress.

    He visits Taiwan (where false mourners are employed to shriek down the funeral hall), then the Philippines (where the living reside alongside the dead in close quarters). Here, Karl is particularly impressed, for those living among the colorful graves and sepulchers make use of the mausoleums as pseudo-homes. The stone and marble structures are put to real-world use, addressing Karl's initial gripe with the departed. Or at least beating out some sort of compromise. In this cemetery, Karl attends an exhumation. The five year long buried woman is dug with no ceremony or pause, sorted into clumps and shoveled into a single plastic bag.

    Karl then assists villagers with the construction of a coffin, and the subsequent trawl of this heavy box through a jungle track. We now find that this sub-culture places coffins upon a cliff-face. Hauled up by hand, kept 'closer to god' and most strikingly, out of the reach of wild dogs, these coffins stick to the cliff-side like bizarre, wild furniture. The height here worries Karl, for he notes that he gets dizzy hanging curtains.

    Finally, Karl returns to England, and proudly displays a custom-made coffin ordered earlier in the episode. There is a twisted gravity to the unveiling of this confectionery-themed coffin, and when Karl lays within the narrow container it is equal parts absurd and sobering.

    Finally, Karl presents a memorial to the Ghana woman from the same episode. It is a weird take on the memorials seen upon park furniture ("This bench is dedicated to so-and-so"), and we close the loop on this death-inspired sojourn. There's more meaning here than you might expect, and Karl has a fractured take on the memory of the dead, yet it is considered and thoughtful in its way.