The Young and the Dead

Dir: Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini

Death has a fascination in Hollywood, where it seems to be viewed as the ultimate way to keep young and beautiful. Forest Lawns may be the most famous one, but the Hollywood Forever cemetery is generally the more interesting one. Like all good cemeteries e.g. Highgate in London, it fell into disrepair, but was rescued - in this case by young turk Tyler Cassity, a man who, although only in his twenties, has startling plans to drag the business of interment, kicking and screaming into the 21st century, such as DNA preservation. This is the core of the documentary: the problem is, once you get past seeing video biographies of the recently deceased, etc., he runs the place like any other commercial enterprise, which may make sense, but falls some way short of enthralling viewing. There are only occasional flashes of potential interest, such as the rivalry with Forest Lawns, and some interesting hints about the shady dealings of the previous owner. Also more interesting are the "characters" - I initially typed "weirdos", which seems a shade unkind - who inhabit the cemetery, revering those buried there such as Rudolf Valentino. As the young daughter of a fan put it during the annual memorial service, "I feel like I'm the only sane one". I can sympathise with her there.


Death, Hollywood style
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