For some time I’ve had a documentary in my Netflix queue called “A Cemetery Special,” which was put out by PBS title in 2005. I finally took some time to watch it, not knowing exactly what it would cover but given my proclivity for the topic I figured I’d appreciate whatever they had to offer.
To be honest, it is a little corny and probably won’t appeal to anyone who isn’t already at least a little bit interested in cemeteries. But that said, if you’re new to the history of gravestones and cemeteries then it gives you a good foundation of how our current style of cemetery came to be, the variety of stories and artwork you can find in them and innovative programs that some cemeteries have used to invite the community to visit.
The documentary covers cemeteries from all over the country, addresses different religions like Judaism and Buddhism and talks about different races and cultures. It’s pretty thorough for a one hour film. They tell a lot of stories about famous political or creative figures who are buried in certain cemeteries, and interview many community members active in either running or visiting the cemeteries that are passionate about how important they are.
For me it’s preaching to the choir, which isn’t a bad thing, just nothing I haven’t heard or thought before. While this film is several years old, I know there are still people out there like me who care a lot about their local cemeteries and are doing whatever they can to remind others how valuable they are. So that makes me glad.
As I said, they travelled all over the country to visit various notable cemeteries, but I think the one most interesting to me was the most foreign-- a cemetery in Alaska. There was beautiful scenery, obviously, but the style of the grave markers was so different that it intrigued me. And that portion of the documentary was the most touching and heartfelt of the entire hour, in my humble opinion.
Also... okay, right at the end while the credits are rolling they play what I can only call an “outtakes” reel. So I sort of love them forever for that, as I live for gag reels.
Furthermore, while writing this piece I stumbled upon this article from the Daily Mail about an artist who used a flashlight to "draw" skeletons in his photographs, one of those being of skeletons in a cemetery. It's incredible artwork, below are the cemetery photograph and another image that I absolutely love:
(Both images from www.dailymail.co.uk)
So you never know what you're going to discover from watching even a mediocre documentary!
A Cemetery Special via Netflix
Artist Takes Light Photography Beyond the Grave via Daily Mail Online