Netflix’s new addition Dick Johnson Is Dead is a documentary with a difference.
As well as being packed with many epic moments, the film is a eulogy to the documentarian Kirsten Johnson’s father, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Encompassing both humour and poignancy, Dick Johnson Is Dead documents the slow and painful loss of Kirsten’s father while showing viewers some interesting moments as she stages her father’s death in various fictional ways in order to come to terms with his inevitable demise.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Netflix film, including what Kirsten had to say about Dick Johnson is Dead.
When is Dick Johnson Is Dead’s Netflix release date?
The film will be available to stream on Netflix from October 2nd.
It initially premiered to an amazing first response at Sundance earlier this year and received a special jury prize for Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling.
What is Dick Johnson Is Dead about?
Dick Johnson Is Dead is a heartfelt eulogy to Kirsten’s living father, Dick, offering an intimate and unique philosophical rumination around life and death.
Within the film, Kirsten utilises unique and unconventional filmmaking techniques, combining fictional scenarios with philosophical digressions.
The synopsis reads: “What if you could make your loved ones live forever? Dick Johnson Is Dead is Kirsten Johnson’s delirious and desperate attempt to keep her ageing father alive. In this effort she turns to the magic of cinema to kill him, resurrect him, and celebrate his last years on earth.
“Toggling between observational documentary and fictional fantasy, longtime cinematographer Kirsten Johnson peels back layers of moviemaking as she and her father share a quest to face his death together. Their challenge is heightened by the erosive effect of dementia, which menaces Dick Johnson (both the person and the movie), but will not deter their commitment to explore the unlikely ways in which we might love and know each other all the way to the end.”
Kirsten is hoping for viewers to be able to adapt how we deal with loss and “find some way not to live in denial”.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, the director explained: “I want the viewers to think of someone who it’s unbearable to imagine losing and then think of something to do with the as opposed to staying in the fear and saying, ‘I can’t even imagine my mother dying!’ or ‘I can’t imagine losing my sister.'”
Instead, Kirsten wants the audience to “act” on these feelings, saying: “The wish for the film is, if there is a way, to keep my father alive forever.”
For Kirsten, creating new memories with her father and finding ways “to show his presence matters” rather than “sliding him off to the side” has helped her to remember her father in a positive and memorable light.
She added: “Honestly, my father is still alive so it’s working so far.”
Why is it called Dick Johnson Is Dead?
Although the title might not be accurate at the present moment, Kirsten insists on being up front with her viewers.
Addressing the title, she said: “I want the stakes to be as real as they are. This is really my father, he really has dementia, I am really losing him, he is really going to die and yet, I also think no that’s not going to happen. And so the basis of the title is that right now that title is false, but some day that title will be true.”
Is there a trailer for Dick Johnson Is Dead?
There is and it’s pretty heartwarming. You can watch it below (get tissues!)
Will there be a second part to Dick Johnson Is Dead?
Although only one film has been commissioned as of yet, it’s likely viewers could see a part two to Dick Johnson Is Dead as Kirsten plans to continue working on the project while her father is alive.
She said: “I had originally said I would make this film until my father really dies, but we got to the place where I thought we have enough. But my father is still alive, so I think I’m going to keep engaging with it, part of, like, a P.S. to the film.”