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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

'The Final Word': ABC2 - Daniel Mansour

Ah, deep breath.

This is as hard to watch as it is heartbreakingly beautiful, raw and honest. And it's a big part of our lives: death.

Starting on December 18 at 9.30pm on ABC2, 'The Final Word' is a brand new Australian doco focusing on this very topic.


Says the YouTube video description: "When death is at your door, how will you view the world and your place in it? Four terminally ill Australians from vastly different backgrounds take us on a confronting, uplifting and surprisingly humorous journey as they look back on their life and consider their 'final words'."

Here is the clip:



Says director Daniel Mansour (below, left, with co-producer Tim ‘Gonzo’ Ryan):

“I have always wondered why death is such a taboo subject in the Western world when it is embraced by so many other cultures. I’ve read a lot about life and death over the years, from various Buddhist and psychology texts to the classic paperback tearjerker ‘Tuesdays With Morrie’. Many of these books indicate that towards the end of life a certain sense of clarity and peace resides upon most. While this might be true, I have never seen this on screen purely from the perspective of those about to die. 

This made me wonder, if you knew your one and only shot at life was about to end, how would you view life? When death is at your door, what actually matters? 

The aim was to create a film where we simply listened to the life reflections of those facing their own mortality. To do so, we provided each subject the opportunity to speak their mind in a candid manner. No agendas were to be pushed; I just wanted to have a conversation with each person about life through the prism of death.

While exploring this topic, it was very important that I didn’t make a film full of clichés, like ‘you should work less and spend more time with your family’. The Final Word isn’t meant to be an instructional self-help film loaded with hints and tips on what you should and shouldn’t do. However, thanks to the words of George, Kylie, Debra and Paul, I now feel that through the eyes of death we catch a glimpse of a different perspective on how life might be lived.”

Daniel Mansour and Tim 'Gonzo' Ryan
If you have been touched by death, and who hasn't, really (and even if you have been lucky enough to not lose anyone close to you), this is essential viewing.

In a year when I have attended six funerals, several of which I was close to/related to the deceased, this is the kind of doco I am actually drawn to.

A friend once asked me: "Why do you watch 'Six Feet Under' when death upsets you so much?", alluding to the death of my father when he was 57 and I was 13, and my subsequent hyper-sensitivity and awareness to people, and the elderly and the vulnerable.

The answer: it's just something I am very present to and has not only made me grow up very quickly, it has ensured I appreciate life in its fragility and beauty and vulnerability. This is a gift, not a burden.

'The Final Word' will screen on Wednesday December 18 at 9.30pm on ABC2.

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