The spiritually-themed movie “Heaven is for Real” is released on DVD today. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it, not many people did. As I often do on Tuesdays, I used the theme of the big video release of the week and turn it into the top 5 list. In this week’s list, I break down the 5 different kinds of movie heaven. Heaven singular? Heavens plural? Who knows? Let’s move on to the list.
5 – Surreal
In The Lovely Bones, Suzie thinks she’s in Heaven, but she is told that she’s not quite in that place or the other place. Meanwhile, the environment changes from a winter forest to stunning views of a beach sunset. The sweeping landscape changes based on her mood. She does eventually get to actual Heaven. She never explains how it looks, but it’s very possible that it’s a glorified version of the limbo she was in.
The most surreal depiction of Heaven was seen in What Dreams May Come. No one will ever claim that this is their favorite movie, but the look and feel of it is unforgettable. The Heaven that Robin Williams experiences is essentially a constantly changing canvas showing impressionistic beauty. This is the type of Heaven where you would never get bored. Hopefully Cuba Gooding Jr. isn’t waiting to guide us all through the transition.
4 – Mundane
If you haven’t seen Albert Brooks’ 1991 comedy, Defending Your Life, it’s time to change that. Brooks gives us a look at a Heaven that most of us can grasp. Unfortunately, for all of its residents, life is pretty drab. It feels like a glorified airport. Brooks quickly realizes that he has died several times before, but was reincarnated until he finally learns the lesson he was meant for. In Judgment City, you wear white robes, but otherwise everything is the same as it is here on Earth. You even get a lawyer that takes your case to the highest court. If nothing else, I would like to go to this Heaven just to watch the video playback of my life.
In Beetlejuice, Heaven is shown as a large office environment. Nothing separates Heaven from appearing as a 9-5 type workplace. The same goes for Heaven in R.I.P.D. Heaven is nothing more than a busy, massive police department.
3 – Traditional
The traditional Heaven is the stereotypical perspective relating to pearly gates and fluffy clouds. In Ice Age 2, Scrat dies and finds himself bouncing on clouds and passing the gates just as he sees a giant golden acorn. He experiences perfect bliss just before he is eventually revived and kicked out of acorn heaven.
In Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the titular characters mug some recently deceased bystanders. They enter the giant hallway and speak to St Peter at the giant door, leading the the cloudy Heaven inside. Angel choruses play constantly in the background.
2 – Personal Paradise
In the final shots of Gladiator, <spoiler alert> Maximus dies and finds himself in the Elysian Fields. He often speaks of seeing his family in the afterlife during the course of the film and that’s exactly where he ends up. His personal Heaven is finally getting home to his wife and son.
In one of the most bizarre scenes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2, Harry ends up in Heaven. Dumbledore has somehow borrowed from Gandalf once again and becomes Dumbledore the White. Harry’s Heaven is a combination of a white luxurious hall and King’s Cross train station. This seems like a beautiful place with the exception of the Voldemort fetus creature laying under the bench. Shudder.
1 – Limbo
Limbo in this case essentially means souls that have died but are stuck on Earth to finally get to Heaven. This is the whole point of Ghost. After solving the crime behind Sam’s death, Molly sees Sam for a short time, just as light from Heaven opens up and Sam is about to transcend. He finally crosses over into the ethereal light where hundreds of souls are waiting for him. That’s a far better option than being taken by the midget demons from Hell. That’s an entirely different list.
If you haven’t seen The Sixth Sense yet, you deserve to have it spoiled. Cole has the ability to see dead people so that he can help them resolve their crises that hold them to the Earth, and they’ll eventually pass on. The same plot is followed in Ghost Town. The main character in limbo before they pass on has become a very popular trope in film.
I’m just saying that I have a theory that deceased Jedi Knights are forever stuck in limbo. That explains why their translucent spirits can appear to to the living.