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How would you explain love to an alien? - Before We Vanish (2017)

‘Before We Vanish’ is a 2017 sci-fi movie by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who gave us a bit of a refreshing take from his usual style, while retaining some of his trademark elements (distant framing, dilapidated buildings). The movie follows the story of three aliens and their human ‘guides’ as they plot to take over Earth. One of the aliens took over the body of Shinji (Ryuhei Matsuda), the husband of Narumi (Masami Nagasawa), who finds it difficult to believe that her husband is now an alien.


These aliens learn more about humanity by ‘taking’ their conceptions of words, such as the meaning of ‘self’, ‘family’, and ‘nuisance’. Shinji wants to know the meaning and conceptions of ‘love’. When he and Narumi come across a local church, he asks the priest there if he could tell him about love. The priest begins to cite some bible verses from 1 Corinthians 13 that talk about love. We all know this one: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…” however, this is all too much for Shinji to even comprehend. It doesn’t draw a clear picture for him. When Narumi finds out what’s up, she tells him that it is, indeed, hard to define love.


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