From This Day Forward

Sheila Hancock stars as Ellie; a woman gathering her strength on the morning of the hardest day of her life. Unwaveringly, she prepares to perform her last act of love. As she navigates her feelings and the very practical considerations of getting this done, she finds that another big decision is to be made.

Director’s Visions

The following quote from Roger Ebert always stayed with me: ‘One reason we get married is that we need a witness to our lives. So says the Susan Sarandon character in Audrey Wells’ much- quoted dialogue for “Shall We Dance” (2004). With the death of every person we have known, our mutual memories become only personal, and then when we die the memories die. In a sense those remembered events never happened.’ I always wondered how one would give meaning to the remaining days in life’s twilight, when the person you shared everything with has vanished. Who to tell about the most mundane little things that still happen in those days? Having observed both of my grandmothers losing their husbands of many decades, I could see how each dealt with life after. It became clear that life is not necessarily worth living for its own sake, which some might find a controversial idea. This is sometimes true for people who are severely ill or in unbearable pain, but also, I have seen, when an irreversible aloneness has set in due to old age. Life can become a wait, and when a significant other passes on late in life, the living partner’s desire to go where the other has gone, becomes undeniable. A strange feeling creeps in that one is increasingly left behind, rather than still present. As if an invisible line is being crossed in one’s heart.

This is what faces the protagonist, in a film that examines how one woman makes sense of this conundrum and comes to a decision. What is at first sight a laden and sorrowful succession of events slowly but surely becomes a quiet celebration of a peace made with life’s final act. A choice made with dignity and determination, perhaps even gratitude for the long road travelled. These monumental themes are contrasted with the small, almost banal technicalities that they require of us as earthly beings. What is life? Is it to be breathing? Or is it to choose not to and transcend our biological wiring because shared death is more meaningful than solitary life? Can love be enough to sustain years to come when the object of that love has vanished? Is a web of a thousand memories a comfort for lonely nights or something to get entangled and slowly suffocated by?

FROM THIS DAY FORWARD hopes to dramatise these questions in a serene way, reminding us of the power we have as human beings to make our lives, and deaths, meaningful however we choose to.