In the future, people can upload their minds into a virtual afterlife that suits them best. This is the premise of Amazon’s latest show Upload, which earlier this month. Concepts about death and the afterlife are not new for television or film, so for those who’ve powered through all of Upload, here are several other stories to turn to, some of them being more uplifting than others.
For something very similar to Upload‘s take on the afterlife, Black Mirror‘s “San Junipero” is a sentimental, queer romance with a sci-fi twist, so read with caution because this includes spoilers. In Season 3, Episode 4, Yorkie meets Kelly at the beach resort town known as San Junipero. While the two pursue a romance together, the setting of the town continues to change to suit different decades. As the episode proceeds, it is revealed that San Junipero is a simulated reality where the elderly can visit as younger versions of themselves and the dead can eventually live there full time. This is one of Black Mirror’s most successful episodes, and it deserves a watch to fully grasp its heartache and love.
For a more supernatural take on the afterlife, The Good Place delivers with plenty of comedy. When Eleanor (Kristen Bell) passes away, she ends up in the Good Place, despite feeling like this is the last place she should be. As the show progresses, Eleanor and several friends learn more about what it means to be good, and they also discover the secrets of the Good Place. Similar to “San Junipero,” this show has great twists, so give it a watch to better understand the true journey Eleanor goes through.
Where The Good Place gives audiences the place people go when they die, Russian Doll goes to the place between life and death. One night Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) attends a friend’s party and dies that night; however, she does not go to heaven or hell. Instead she restarts the night without a scratch on her, and this is the start of an endless cycle of reliving this day, dying in different ways each time. This show is great for people who’ve enjoyed films like Groundhog Day or Happy Death Day, and it is a truly unique take on how pugatory can help and hurt those trapped in it.
The Lovely Bones provides a more melancholy look at purgatory. After Susie (Saoirse Ronan), a 14-year-old girl, is murdered, her family is put through the ringer while she is trapped in purgatory. At first purgatory seems like a fantasy world; however, as the time passes, the dark underbelly of this world comes out, reflecting the turmoil Susie is going through as she lacks closure about her murder. This movie is about being able to move forward in life and death, even when one’s trauma is still present.
One of the most iconic films about the afterlife is Beetlejuice. This film is a staple for any Tim Burton fan, and it mixes horror with comedy to create a unique, whimsical take on the afterlife, from the literal Handbook for the Recently Deceased to the bureaucratic nature of death to the titular bio-exorcist himself. This movie, while its lead is dirty in every sense of the world, has some tender moments between Lydia (Winona Ryder), Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis), emphasizing how important it is to live life as one’s self.
Another film directed by Burton is The Corpse Bride, and it has a similar take on the afterlife in tone. In dreary, Victorian England, Victor (Johnny Depp) is arranged to marry Victoria (Emily Watson); however, while practicing his vows he accidentally marries Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), who is a dead bride. Where the world of the living is dark and depressing, the land of the dead is more enjoyable with hyper saturated colors, characters who feel more alive in death and musical numbers that make one want to dance.
This Oscar winning animated picture shows how death is not the end of the story in two ways. The first is with the literal afterlife, which is beautifully animated with warm and vibrant colors and a cast of characters who exude love and joy. The second is with how the family’s of the dead move forward in life while still sharing the memories of those who have passed. By sharing the stories of the dead with generation after generation, the living stay connected to their past and the dead live on in the Land of the Dead. This movie is an incredible, family film with music that will either make one want to dance or share a good cry with their loved ones.
For a romantic and adventurous film about death, The Book of Life is perfect. Two childhood friends, Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum), fall for the same woman, Maria (Zoe Saldana), and La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) – ruler of the Land of the Remembered – and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) – ruler of the Land of the Forgotten – place bets on who will win her hand in marriage. This bet leads to Manolo’s death, but Manolo fights for a second chance at life. Along with jaw dropping animation, the film is all about embracing one’s self, being honest with loved ones and supporting family and friends for who they are.
A year after Eric (Brandon Lee) and his fiancée Shelly (Sofia Shinas) are killed, he rises from the grave as the Crow, a supernatural vigilante. He uses this as an opportunity to exact revenge given his new set of powers. This film, which is based on a comic, gives a gritty, superhero take on what can happen in the afterlife. In this case, the afterlife for Eric continues in the land of the living until he can get closure in the form of vengeance and justice on those who’ve hurt him and his loved ones.
For those who've finished Amazon's Upload, there are plenty more shows and films about the afterlife that range from romantic to horrific.