Movie: Dead Again
Release Date: August 23, 1991
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Andy Garcia, Derek Jacobi, Robin Williams, Wayne Knight, Hanna Schygulla.
Tag Lines: “A Mystery About True Love…And Certain Death.”
“How many times can you die for love?”
Relevance: Every time I watch a movie trailer I play a game with myself. I call it “That’s a renter!” Catchy title, right? I am the type of movie fan that will watch any movie. And I mean any movie. However, since I am both poor and cheap, I am very selective about what films get my money for the theater and which ones I save for the much cheaper “rental” at home. Once I watch a trailer, I know immediately what category the movie falls into and there are definitely a lot more “That’s a renter” titles than not.
I vaguely remember seeing the trailer to ‘Dead Again’ in 1991 and thinking that it looked like an interesting film. However, it did get the infamous, “That’s a renter!” At the time, I was not familiar with Kenneth Branagh or Emma Thompson, but having Robin Williams in the film is what most likely piqued my interest. I was already a huge fan of his, but was more focused on his upcoming release, ‘The Fisher King’ (see 209. The Fisher King). Since I was headed back to school, I put the movie on the back burner and would look for it when it was released as a rental.
I am not exactly sure when I first saw ‘Dead Again,’ but I do know who I was with. It was probably sometime in the summer of 1992. During that period of my life, my summer’s were spent working and hanging out with friends. That group of friends would range between five to ten people and consist of both males and females between the ages of thirteen and twenty-three. After a day at the mall or swimming, we would usually end up at one of our houses for some snacks, more swimming and a possible movie. Since I was usually in charge of renting them, ‘Dead Again’ was one of those possible movies. During its theatrical run, it got high praise from critics and was a moderate box office hit. Plus, I remembered the trailer and knew it had Robin Williams in it. He was not only a favorite of mine, but a group favorite as well.
The movie was nothing like I had ever seen before. It had a very “film noir” and Hitchcockian feel to it and I was instantly intrigued. Robin Williams only had a very small supporting role, and although quite good in it, I was more impressed by its two leads. Kenneth Branagh, who also directed the film, and Emma Thompson were absolutely mesmerizing in their dual roles. It was a fun, thriller mystery that kept my entire group of friends on the edge of their seats. For months after we had watched the movie, one of my friends called me Frankie and I in turn called her Inga. (If you have seen the movie, you know the reference.) To this day when I think about this movie, I could still hear us calling out to each other, “Frankie,” “Inga.”
I watched the movie one more time alone before I returned the rental in 1992. I absolutely loved the film and the ideas and themes it presented. Reincarnation and one’s past lives was always a subject that I loved to read about and discuss. It fascinated me. ‘Dead Again’ is also responsible for introducing me to both Mr. Branagh and Ms. Thompson, both whom have become favorites of mine in the world of film. I have owned both the VHS and DVD and it is a film that I have watched numerous times over the years.
Today’s Thoughts: “You take what you’ve learned from this life and use it in the next. That’s karma.”
I am not a religious person nor do I necessarily believe in an afterlife or heaven. I do however toy with the idea of reincarnation and that we may have a “next life.” Because of that, I try to be a decent person. Even when I kill a spider in our house (because spiders do not, I repeat, do not belong in our house), I always apologize and say, “I’m sorry. Go on to your next life.” (Somehow, I feel like I am going to be a spider the next time around. I promise I’ll stay outside though.) Besides yelling “Frankie” and “Inga,” ‘Dead Again’ always gets me thinking about the notion of karma, reincarnation and letting things go. So today was as good a day as any to revisit the film.
This is still a movie that is so much fun to watch. It definitely has that “film noir” look and feel to it, especially as it jumps between black and white and color to distinguish the past and present lives. Beautifully directed by Kenneth Branagh, ‘Dead Again’ is melodrama at its best. Its story, pace and acting are all top notch and extremely entertaining. I adore Mr. Branagh and Emma Thompson as well as Andy Garcia, Robin Williams, Wayne Knight as well as a quick glimpse of Campbell Scott. It is quite the ensemble cast.
‘Dead Again’ is one of those movies that is not often remembered, but one that should be. Its spirit and daring take on its themes and genres is not only commendable, but refreshing. More importantly, it is extremely entertaining and comes highly recommended.
Awards: Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, Patrick Doyle (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Derek Jacobi (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner).
Ways to Watch: Pluto TV, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, DVD Availability.