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Movies That Use Purgatory Themes In Stories

Films that use crossing over and changing to be a better person before entering the after life or in some cases a better life.

Purgatory is the state of the soul stuck between heaven and hell. It is a place of temporary punishment and purification process to ready souls into heaven. This is an article that describes purgatory better, the article Furnace Divine Love: Biblical Roots of Purgatory by Thomas Smith from The Great Adventure. In movies, the more popular description of purgatory is used with pain and finalizing tasks before crossing over. This is a list of movies that used elements of purgatory in their plot.

Groundhog Day (1993)

This is the original movie about repeating the exact same day over and over again. This is a romantic comedy movie with Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. There are a lot of funny bits in the movie about what can you do if you repeat the same day. He goes through interpersonal changes from a mean grouch who could care less to a caring engaged nice charming person.

Ghost (1990)

A young couple just bought a condo in the artsy yet violent part of town experiences heartbreak when one of them dies. Sam is the live-in boyfriend of Demi Moore who gets stabbed in front of his new home. Instead of crossing over to the other side, he stayed to protect Demi and figure out who killed him. This is a romance movie of the early 90s that most people like and feel sad when watching. I always felt like it was a real good story about latching onto people, things and ideas. Funny note, throughout the movie the character Sam is constantly called stubborn living and dead.

Jacobs Ladder (1990)

A soldier from Vietnam comes back from the war and feels is connected to the people around him. There is a lot of imagery that conveys dread, fear and confusion for the lead character and his other friends from the war. He struggles to adjust to regular life throughout the movie which is the point because you see his plight to the end.

What Dreams May Come (1999)

This was based on the same-titled novel by Richard Burton Matheson with blurry CGI. The updated metaphors and imagery do clash throughout the movie. A doctor suddenly dies in a car crash and goes to heaven living within the many painting his wife made throughout her life. Things become darker for his widowed wife that within four years she loses her children and becomes institutionalized then commits suicide. He realizes she wouldn’t be in the same place as him so he risks his soul to retrieve her. This movie may not be for everyone due to how sad it could be.

Happy Death Day (2017)

A girl constantly dying on her birthday and resurrected to repeat the same day of her death. It takes her a while to solve the case but this is a more upbeat movie about repeating the same day until the character gets it right. The ringtone can grate on your nerves. The original song they used to advertise the movie was 50 Cents – “Party in da club.” Furthermore, they lampoon Groundhog Day as a reference to her occurrences throughout the film.

Before I fall (2017)

One of the popular girls in school relive the day of her death until she does this one task to stop the time loop. It is similar to Groundhog Day and Happy Death Day but it’s based on the novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver. It’s a more dramatic teen movie about changing as a person.

Heart and Soul (1993)

After an unfortunate bus accident that killed its passengers, a young boy, Thomas, becomes possessed by the ghosts of his childhood. His parents are convinced that they are just imaginary friends the ghosts decide to hide away from Thomas. After many years later when the young boy grows up to be a corporate job and starts to have his own life and the spirits are informed about they have to cross over to the afterlife. They reappear to Thomas and get him to help them cross over by possessing his body. This movie is really funny and sad to watch. All the subplots come together at the end to finish the story with great comedic acting.

Corpse Bride (2005)

A stop-motion animation about a young man getting cold feet on his wedding day. He places the wedding ring on what he thought was a branch in a dark forest only to accidentally awaken a corpse that accepts his marriage proposal. The would-be groom has to help the bride cross over to the afterlife so that he is not still married to a woman who is not his bride-to-be.

Coco (2017)

A colourful animated movie about a young boy desperate to prove his talent finds himself in the Land of the Dead to look for his long-lost relative. For the young boy to get back home he must go on an inquest to unlock his family history. This film is mostly based on the celebration of the Day of the Dead which is the gathering of friends and family, praying and remembering for the close ones who died and helping and supporting their spiritual journey.

Beetlejuice (1988)

A country-styled young couple who were trying to start a family in the Connecticut countryside suddenly die in a car accident. They are sent to the netherworld, a ghost world for the recently deceased, to file some paperwork because there’s bureaucracy after death. When they come back from that world, they discover that their home was sold and transformed into a yuppie Gothic New Memphis style from a rich New York family. They try to scare the family out but they eventually hire a con artist ghoul to do the job with undesired results.

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