Every so often, we find ourselves pondering the existential question – what happens after we die? Is there a heaven – a divine paradise, a serene realm of eternal peace and joy? These questions, though as old as humanity itself, are yet to find definitive answers. However, the enigmatic realm of cinema has often attempted to illustrate this elusive concept through various interpretations. This article embarks on a journey through some of the most profound movies about heaven.
The Stairway to the Clouds: A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
A classic from the bygone era, A Matter of Life and Death (1946), presents a unique perspective on heaven. This movie is a testament to the imaginative prowess of filmmakers who dared to illustrate heaven during a time when special effects were in their infancy. The movie’s heaven is a literal escalator, ascending into an ethereal cloud-shrouded realm.
The plot revolves around Peter Carter, a wartime aviator, who is mistakenly taken to heaven due to an angel’s error. Upon realizing his premature arrival, he is sent back to Earth, albeit in a different body. The film beautifully juxtaposes the colour and monochrome cinematography, symbolizing the vivid earthly realm and the stark celestial one.
The Testament of a Child: Heaven is for Real (2014)
Based on the real-life experiences of the Burpo family, Heaven is for Real (2014) delves into the afterlife through the innocent eyes of a child. The movie revolves around Colton, who, during an emergency surgery, finds himself in a heavenly realm.
Upon returning, Colton talks about his journey to heaven, his encounters with Jesus, and his long-deceased family members. His vivid description of Jesus mirrors that of a Lithuanian girl who underwent a similar experience, leading his initially sceptical pastor father to believe in his divine journey.
A Miracle Unfolds: Miracles from Heaven (2016)
An adaptation of a true story, Miracles from Heaven (2016), portrays the divine journey of a young girl named Anna. Anna is diagnosed with a serious illness with no cure. However, following a fall from a tree, she miraculously survives and finds her disease cured.
Anna narrates her heavenly encounters to her parents, describing a realm adorned with blooming hydrangeas transforming into butterflies and an endless blue sky – a celestial paradise where she meets God, who promises her healing.
A Divine Encounter: The Shack (2017)
The Shack (2017), an adaptation of a book of the same name, narrates the spiritual journey of a man named Mack. After suffering the loss of his daughter, Mack receives a mysterious note urging him to revisit the site of her death.
In hope of finding answers about the tragedy, Mack embarks on a journey that leads him to a divine encounter with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. In a cabin in the wilderness, Mack finds solace, forgiveness, and a glimpse of his daughter in heaven.
A Canine’s Tale: All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
A heart-warming animated feature, All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989), sees Charlie, a mischievous canine, sneak back to Earth from heaven. During his earthly sojourn, he befriends a young girl named Anne-Marie. Through his relationship with Anne-Marie, Charlie learns about love, loyalty, and selflessness.
This movie presents a vividly colourful interpretation of heaven, filled with angelic dogs radiating an ethereal glow. Charlie’s journey highlights the concept of redemption, emphasizing that it’s never too late to earn your halo.
A Labyrinth of Dreams: What Dreams May Come (1998)
What Dreams May Come (1998) is a rich tapestry woven with threads of the afterlife, heaven, and hell. The movie revolves around Chris Nielsen, whose life is cut short by a car accident. Subsequently, he finds himself in a heavenly realm, only to leave it to save his wife, Annie, who takes her own life out of grief.
The movie paints a dazzling picture of heaven, where the landscape transforms into a canvas, and flowers morph into oil paint in Chris’s hands. The film beautifully illustrates the power of love, which transcends the boundaries of life and death.
A Ghostly Narrative: The Lovely Bones (2009)
The Lovely Bones (2009) portrays a gripping narrative of a fourteen-year-old girl, Susie Salmon, who is brutally murdered by her neighbour. Following her death, Susie finds herself in an intermediate realm, referred to as the ‘In-Between’, where she aids her family in determining her murderer.
The film presents an intriguing concept of heaven as a place of solace where the departed souls complete their unfinished business. In the end, Susie’s journey culminates in a golden field, where she is greeted by other victims of her killer, marking her entry into heaven.
A Spiritual Odyssey: The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Sixth Sense (1999) is a narrative about a child psychiatrist, Malcolm, who, unbeknownst to him, is dead. He attempts to help a young boy, Cole, who sees ghosts. As Malcolm aids Cole in accepting his supernatural abilities, he comes to realize his own death.
The film presents a poignant depiction of the afterlife, where the departed spirits, unable to find peace, linger in the earthly realm. Malcolm’s journey to heaven is marked by the completion of his unfinished business with his wife, highlighting the concept of closure in the afterlife.
A Love Beyond Life: Ghost (1990)
Ghost (1990) is a captivating love story that transcends the boundaries of life and death. Following his tragic death, Sam Wheat’s spirit remains in the human realm. With the help of a medium, Oda Mae, Sam unveils his murder plot and saves his beloved Molly.
The movie presents a fascinating concept of heaven as a shining light that appears once the departed souls accomplish their unfinished business. The film beautifully captures the eternal essence of love that continues to thrive even in the afterlife.
The Land of the Dead: Coco (2017)
The Pixar gem, Coco (2017), offers a vibrant portrayal of the afterlife. The film revolves around Miguel, a young boy with a passion for music, who finds himself in the Land of the Dead. As he navigates through this realm, he unravels a family secret that changes their perception of music forever.
The movie presents a colourful and lively depiction of the afterlife, with a city of spirits, a bridge of marigold petals, and a grand music concert, offering a unique perspective on the concept of life after death.
A Ghostly Comedy: Ghost Town (2008)
Ghost Town (2008) is a comedic take on the afterlife. The story revolves around Bertram Pincus, who, after a brief death, gains the ability to see ghosts. Initially reluctant, Bertram gradually learns to assist these restless spirits to find closure.
The film offers a quirky and light-hearted interpretation of the afterlife, where spirits roam around, waiting to resolve their unfinished earthly matters. It presents a unique take on the concept of closure, an essential aspect of transitioning into the heavenly realm.
A Heavenly Conclusion
While the concept of heaven and the afterlife might forever remain an enigma, these movies about heaven offer a fascinating window into the various interpretations of this divine realm. They take us on a cinematic journey from the ethereal cloud-shrouded abode in “A Matter of Life and Death” to the vibrant Land of the Dead in “Coco”. Whether you’re seeking solace or simply indulging in a spiritual exploration, these movies offer a comforting glimpse of the divine paradise that potentially awaits us beyond this earthly realm.