Meditation on death is quite central to Buddhism, and this film, although it has nothing formally to do with Buddhism, or the Buddhist ideas of death and rebirth, does provide a certain kind of meditation on the fact.
The question the film-makers are investigating is: what happens to those who die without any obvious next of kin to see to their burial and the disposal of their belongings?
The answer is a very complex set of procedures handled by various bureaucracies in the local government, and this film watches how it proceeds from one department to another until some final settlement, often years down the road is decided on.
The film is concerned with three men who die in very different circumstances: one has no close kin but he did make meticulous plans for his death and left sufficient funds to see to his disposal; another died in a filthy hovel he had been surviving in for years, and a third died during an overnight stay at a hotel.
The film lets the people from the various departments explain who they found, where they found them and what steps they are taking to see to their identification and disposal.
The film is very detached in its approach, and not sentimental, but here we are dealing with over 2,000 a year, every year, in Los Angeles alone who die without any obvious person to see to the final steps. A meditation indeed.
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