TV And Movie Burial Scenes That Went Too Far

HBO’s “Six Feet Under” was ahead of its time, darkly funny, and surprisingly popular. A series exploring the lives of a family who run a mortuary in Los Angeles is guaranteed to feature a fair number of funerals. But it is the funeral of Nate Fisher, the family’s eldest son, that’s memorable because it pushed the envelope of what an audience was used to seeing on television.

The burial scene where the Fishers lay Nate to rest was visceral, raw, and not what we have come to expect from burial scenes in television or film. Funerals are, in modern Western culture, a sanitized ritual. A mortician tries to make the corpse look as they did in life. The body is placed in a fancy casket wearing nice clothing, surrounded by colorful flower arrangements. Guests talk about the deceased’s wonderful attributes while minimizing their flaws. But Nate Fisher requested a green burial. His body was wrapped in a shroud and placed in the ground without being embalmed or protected by a casket.

Showcasing the incredible acting talents of the entire cast, Nate’s burial is an incredibly moving, vulnerable, but brutal scene, as characters who typically approach death with a blasé, desensitized attitude are undone by their grief. Nate’s brother David is reduced to a shaking, hallucinating, emotional mess. Their mother, Ruth, seems numb. His sister Claire is underdressed and unprepared. Brenda, Nate’s pregnant wife, stands alone, reminding us that ultimately grief is a solitary process and we all mourn in our own way. This burial scene is heartbreaking.

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