Scattered Cinema: Films Where ‘Ashes’ Take Center Stage
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The “ash” scattering scene of the Big Lebowski gets a lot of attention, but it isn’t the only film where cremated remains steal the scene.
Here are 10 movies we found where cremated remains are a key part of the story.
By the way, we noticed in many of these films, there often was no metal ID or thick plastic bag shown in the prop urns, and characters weren’t too concerned about checking with authorities about the legality of their planned scattering.
Still, we salute the filmmakers for bringing this increasingly common ritual to the screen.
The 2006 film, starring Jessica Lange, Joan Allen and Kathy Bates, is another road trip movie in which the trio of women travel to deliver Lange’s husband “Joe” home with plenty of detours throughout the West.
A 2010 road trip comedy with Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. Depending on your sense of humor, you may laugh or cringe as the movie shows the dangers of carrying ashes around in a coffee can.
A shoe designer loses his job, his company billions of dollars as well as his father, but returns to Kentucky and takes dad’s ashes on a road trip. The 2005 Cameron Crowe movie stars Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst.
Five friends reunite to scatter the ashes of their junior high school basketball coach (and “buzzer noise-maker”) who led them to a victory thirty years before. Adam Sandler wrote and starred in the 2010 film.
The 2001 movie follows the longtime pub mates of a London butcher (Michael Caine) who travel to follow his wish of being scattered at sea in Margate. The film proves that scattering is more complicated in the dreary English weather.
A low-budget 2006 film features no crew or cast, but chronicles the travels of two buddies who bring along the ashes of friend “Paul” to scatter around the world.
As his wife Elizabeth lies in a coma, George Clooney comes to terms with their marriage and family in the 2011 movie. Clooney and his girls scatter Elizabeth’s ashes from an outrigger canoe off Oahu’s Waikiki Beach, which was no easy feat.
A sequel to Terms of Endearment, the 1996 movie continues the story of Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) and family. In a memorable scene, Jack Nicholson drives a convertible as MacLaine scatters ashes at the beach in the wind.
Emilio Estevez directs father Martin Sheen in this 2010 tale of a father who travels to “El Camino de Santiago” in Spain after his son dies there and decides to travel it himself, bringing and sprinkling his son’s ashes as he goes and making friends along the way.
In a 2014 documentary about George Takei and husband Brad, the two scatter Brad’s mother in a funny and poignant scene. Oh my!
As our society gets more comfortable with talking about death, we’re happy to see more cinematic portrayals of this important part of life.