Content Warning: The following article contains discussions of depression, death, chronic illness, and near death experiences.
Netflix’s existential docuseries Survive death It has remained a morbid curiosity among the most rabid viewers of the streaming service. Directed by Ricki Stern, the six-part series joins a long list of non-fiction movies and TV shows that explore death, the afterlife, and what the future may hold in the next life, if at all.
While the themes can be a bit heavy and anxiety provoking at times, the series also offers unexpected flashes of hope and optimism. Viewers may later wish for more thought-provoking documentaries on similar themes.
Updated June 13, 2021 by Kristen Palamara: Survive death in Netflix is a miniseries documentary that explores various interview and investigation topics, including investigating multiple near-death experiences and the possibility of reincarnation. Netflix’s Surviving Death is a popular documentary series and there are countless other documentaries that delve into morbid themes like death or focus on a case of someone fading like So Much So Fast. Some documentaries are existential, deal with lurid themes, and challenge the viewer’s thinking on shows like Surviving Death.
14 The simulation hypothesis (2015)
The simulation hypothesis discusses the idea of living in a simulation and brings together some of today’s best thinkers to discuss the theory including Neil deGrasse Tyson, Paul Davies and James Gates.
The documentary delves into the fundamental idea of reality itself and challenges the viewer to question their own reality and what is presented to them on a daily basis in this thought-provoking documentary.
13 Death by Design (2016)
Death by design sees filmmaker Sue Williams delving into the true effects of technology and digital addiction on consumers and how truly damaging the world of technology is to the rest of the world.
Although many people may know that technology that is produced at such a fast pace and that everyone is obsessed with the new smartphone, tablet or laptop is not healthy, this documentary shows the darker reality in detail. Death by design shows how technology affects the environment, working conditions and the environment in Silicon Valley.
12 So much so fast (2006)
This documentary tells the story of Stephen Heywood when he discovers that he has ALS, his reaction, and his declining health. The documentary also focuses on people in his life like his brother Jamie who is obsessed with finding a cure and a woman who is falling in love with him and how Stephen decides to approach the possible romantic relationship knowing that he does not have much time.
Meanwhile, Jamie quits his job and opens a medical research facility that includes raising millions for research through the ALS Ice Cube Challenge.
eleven Life Itself (2014)
Life itself follows the life of film critic Roger Ebert with interviews months before his death and interviews with friends, co-workers and family, including his wife and famous names like Martin Scorsese and Werner Herzog.
The documentary focuses on Ebert’s ill health in his later years, his life’s struggles and successes, his work as a legendary film critic, and his rivalries with other film critics.
10 What # S *! We know? (2004)
Regarded as new-age nonsense after the fact, the 2004 document What the hell do we know it was an important cultural phenomenon when it was released in 2004. The film attempts to reduce quantum physics to a digestible lesson for non-scientists.
Using dramatic re-enactments, computer animation, and a panel of talking heads, the film attempts to reconcile science and religion as codependents. The polarizing film was named Best Documentary at the 2004 Washington DC Independent Film Festival.
9 Beyond (2011)
Paul Perry’s 2011 Document Future life explores just that, while interviewing a series of human beings who encountered a near-death experience (NDE) in their life and live to recount the experience.
Perry interviews people who claim to have seen the tunnel of white light moments before returning to consciousness, which is said to come from endorphins in the brain. Perry also records survivors who claim to gain psychic powers and / or special gifts, such as playing music after experiencing an NDE.
8 The Enlightened (2017)
Written and directed by Crystal Dawne, The enlightened: all things angels and more is a provocative documentary that explores the ways in which to channel positive energy and improve life by accessing the angelic plane.
The film includes interviews with various spiritual teachers, healers, authors, magicians, musicians, and others who embrace a connection with angels and use the experience to find purpose in life. By harnessing this invisible energy, positive change can occur.
7 The Eleventh Hour (2007)
Leonardo Dicaprio The eleventh hour it is an existential documentary of another kind. Rather than focus on personal and anecdotal evidence about reincarnation and the afterlife, the film takes a macro view of the planetary threat brought on by climate change.
Directed by Lelia and Nadia Conners, the film depicts a grim vision of the erosion of Earth’s natural resources from devastating sea level rise, rising carbon dioxide and methane, and the irreparable damage it continues to cause. The film also offers hopeful ways that grassroots activism can help advance the cause.
6 Life after life (1992)
Director Peter Shockey won an award from the New York Film Festival for his 1992 documentary Life after life, in which he interviews the highest authority on NDE, Dr. Raymond Moody (pictured).
Moody examines cases of people who were pronounced clinically dead before being revived shortly thereafter. Moody collects recurring images and experiences shared by those who venture into the light at the end of the tunnel and return to waking life. Positive energy and overwhelming feelings of optimism point to the ultimate test of the afterlife.
5 Transcendent Man (2009)
On Transcendent man, the famous scientist, inventor and philosopher Ray Kurzweil presented his controversial theory on the evolution of mankind. Kurzweil believes in the notion of Singularity, an inevitable moment when humanity and technology will become one in the 21st century.
The theory offers an existential dilemma about the future of humanity. In Kurzweil’s view, singularity would be a positive way to reverse disease and cure death. Others find the theory problematic because of the possibility of a machine-led lift.
4 The Tibetan Book of the Dead (1994)
Narrated by the late bard Leonard Cohen, the two-part documentary film The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Way of Life Y The great liberation offer ancient Buddhist views on what happens during the afterlife.
Dali Lami and Ram Dass are available to guide filmmakers through the ancient text and help them channel wisdom and visualize the principles of reincarnation and life after death. The great liberation focuses on the death of a 40-year-old man and the return to his family after a long battle with the disease.
3 Infinity: The Ultimate Journey (2009)
By Jay Weidner Infinity: The Ultimate Trip – Journey Beyond Death is a must-see document for those captivated by Survive death.
The film features renowned experts Gregg Braden, Renate Dollinger, Robert Thurman, Brian Weiss, and many more as they grapple with some of the biggest existential questions facing humanity. Their compelling testimonies are explored mixed with personal reincarnation interviews, out-of-body experiences, astral projection, and the like.
two Gates of Heaven (1978)
Five years before Stephen King introduced the world to his Pet Sematario, the world documentary maker Errol Morris made a documentary version through Heaven’s doors.
In an existential documentary of another kind, Morris’s film chronicles the overwhelming sense of grief, loss and depression that pet owners feel after their loved ones pass away. Rather than watch the remains turn into glue at a local factory, a pet cemetery in Northern California helps grieving homeowners cope.
1 Grizzly Man (2005)
Far from the realm of reincarnation, but on the target of existentialism is Grizzly Manby the intrepid and incomparable documentary maker Werner Herzog.
The film tells the heartbreaking true story of environmentalists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, two dedicated Grizzly bear conservationists who spent much of their time living outdoors with a grizzly bear detective in Alaska. The tragic death of the two leaves Herzog searching for answers on why they weren’t so scared.
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