Furthermore, the film also explores the notion of death being a part and parcel of life through the lot and the characters confronting and experiencing grief, fear, and anxiety related to death. But all is not doom and gloom as there is the celebration of life when the characters confront death both real and imagined and learn from their experiences that life is worth living. As a result, the characters who are Initially obsessed with death through fear and anxiety gradually begin to build meaningful relationships with each other and celebrate life.
The director Sarah Watt explores death as a universal theme that no one can escape from and she explores It In many different ways. The film begins with the plot of the Aaron Hill train disaster where many are killed and injured as seen on the television news and the accidental death of man called Rob who is killed by a freight train. The initial plot of death is pervasive as it spreads and affects most of the characters in some way or other.
From the opening shot of the newsreader announcing the news about the Aaron Hill train disaster, through to Emery’s fears of a violent death through animation and dialogue, to Nicks suffering anxiety by implying that his body is riddled with cancer cells multiplying in he photometer sequence and Rob’s accidental death, the director wants to explore and examine death as a universal theme that no one can avoid.
Most of the characters In the film come into contact o through the grieving process for family members or friends or through witnessing random accidents which exacerbates their own sense Insecurity In life. By reacting to their own fears and anxiety about dying, they soon realism their own weakness and their own lonely lives. The message Is very clear in this film that death can happen at any time and at any place and it may also effect many through anxiety, fear and grief.
The film explores death from the moment Robs gets killed on the train tracks and Julia one of the central character who is upset by it. We get to see Julia going through the seven stages grief as part of her coming to terms of Rob’s death; her initial shock and disbelief, anger and bargaining, guilt and depression and then her acceptance of his death as the rains starts falling on the Sunday of very hot weekend.
This exploration of grieving process is then Juxtaposed In a parallel narrative with the Train Drivers perceived sense of lilt and remorse and grief for being responsible for the loss of Rob’s life. The scenes of these two characters are very important In exploring the various forms of the grieving process as the plot of Rob’s death has a significant relevance and connection to death being pervasive throughout our lives. The film explores the need to affirm when we are confronted with death.
Julia and the Train Driver’s grieving may have been excessive in the eyes of audiences but in reality death signals the end of one’s life and the directors wants to show us that every individual who are affected by death directly or indirectly through various forms will have their own way of coming to terms with death, and Cilia’s behavior and Train Driver’s behavior only seem to reinforce the notion grieving as being a part of death which is random and an individual may look to cope with it in their own way when affected by death related issues or share a common bond with others which is what that makes Nick and Merry to come together as friends, lovers and partners. Nick and Merry meet through loneliness and a common subject that they share in having anxieties and fears about death. They meet at the scene of Rob’s accidental death at the train tracks and they both discover that they are neighbors and have death as a common theme in their lives.
Even their conversation highlights that they are all obsessed and preoccupied on the subject of death and both have a sense of grief, fear and anxiety about the possibility dying. In Emery’s case, different types of death and the excessive obsession with death through her imaginations of various forms of death with animations of a train falling on her and dying, or being stabbed to death while she is turning from her father’s funeral are all signs of Merry has a fear and anxiety of dying as she leads a lonely and meaningless existence in her mind as a greeting card illustrator and a part time artist. In Nick case, his anxiety about death may have been more real than imagined as he is confronted with the reality of having testicular cancer and not given any assurances by his evasive doctor.
This exacerbates much fear and anxiety in his mind about the real possibility of dying of cancer and disease. His anxiety and fears are shown in pathogenesis of him reflecting on the causes of is cancer and how his life might end. His mind at times wonders back to him reflecting back visually on his father Jims who died a year ago suffering from cancer which increased Nicks anxiety level. From their experiences, the characters learn that in life there will always be suffering as seen through Nick and his anxiety over cancer, Merry and her imagination and her obsession on death and Rob’s death affecting many. The message is clear that sometimes encountering death can be painful and which may also lead to living an anxious and fearful lives.
But the film hen slowly provides solutions by characters having to come to terms with death and then acknowledging death as a part of life through coping, understanding and sharing their problems. Only then, we see we see them overcome their problems with death, fear and anxiety as Joan, Nicks mother succinctly explains ‘It doesn’t matter how life ends, it matters how it was. Nicks mother Joan wants Nick to forget about the suffering of death and to be more conscious of life itself. In this instance, the film examines not only the importance of death but also the existence of life by avian a solution through Jean’s prophetic words to Nick in her quest of coming to terms and coping with her husband Jims death.
Life itself is an important theme that the film explores through the characters and symbolism. As the film progresses, many problems are overcome when the characters learn about death and themselves. From Joan, who talks about the importance of life and to Merry who gets over her fear of death, and to Nick who is less concerned about his cancer as he not all about living and dying but also about the celebration of life. The acknowledgement of death is an unavoidable moment in our lives. The world will continue to move on is another fact that is important to realism. For example, when Julia suffers in silence, Miriam, Phial’s wife is making a shopping list for her daughter’s birthday party.
Death which is a personal experience for Merry and Nick and Julia becomes unimportant for others who are not affected by it. Thus, life is an ongoing experience and is a very big part for all of us. The initial fear of death and the unimportance for those not affected by it is an examination of life itself. A significant part of the film explores the celebration of life through the affirmation of death achieve through coping and celebrating on the need to exist. Anna’s pregnancy and Nick and Emery’s blossoming relationship is a celebration of life but with certain ups and downs as part and parcel called life. The message is clear that the celebration of life is equally important for us to continue living.
The relationship and the friendship of life are important to an individual as he or she celebrates the meaning of life, including the acknowledgement of death as being random in one’s life. What began as sad and gloomy theme focusing death and its related fears, anxiety and the grieving process at the start of the film progresses into something like a celebration of the possibility of what life has to offer. This is achieved through the characters coming to terms with their problems and learning about one another. Nicks and Emery’s relationship begins to blossom even after Nick disconnects his relationship with Merry from the fear his cancer might create problems for Merry and him. But once Nick verbalizes the truth about his fear of his cancer to Merry, the cancer becomes unimportant and their relationship blossoms.
Other characters like Andy at the end want Anna as his partner and willing to give the relationship and fatherhood a try. Julia and the Train Driver with their classic symbolic hand shake and a condolence card offering by the Train Driver to Julia in the rain too marks the end of the grief, guilt and remorse. The word ‘Sorry uttered by the Train Driver and ‘it’s not your fault’ by Julia marks the end of the seven stages of grief through acceptance of death. Thus begins the acceptance of death and the beginning of living for them. Death may have been a part of life that needs affirmation but like the cycle of life, death is only point in life that will occur at random in one’s life.
The writer and director Sarah Watt’s message is clear that death should be acknowledge as a part of life and death and its related issues of fear, anxiety and grief are all part and parcel of life which the film acknowledges, examines and eventually informs us about death and life and the meaning of life being interwoven together as a fabric that exists gather in the cycle of life. Look Both Ways not only examines death and its varying degrees of issues of grief, fear, anxiety, that are interconnected as part of life but also sends out a message on the importance of living and in the meaning of life, as Joan states it succinctly and aptly to Nick ‘l couldn’t give him my way of coping and you couldn’t give him yours.
Everybody has to find a way to face their own death, and life. ‘ In this regard Sarah Watts manages to inform us that death is a phase in life which is and and which needs affirmation as being a part of life. Together with this affirmation and acceptance, we must also learn to not to dwell on death and its uncertainties but to learn to cope with it in our own way and then move on to questions like death and how to cope with the issues of fear, anxiety, pain and suffering as being a part and parcel of life and then move on to live and celebrate life in her film Look Both Ways. (May She Rest in Peace and Gather Eternal Peace Forever and Ever in the land of Never Never)