7.21 h 35 min2017ALL
Follow the legendary team of obituary writers at The New York Times as they chronicle life and death with journalistic rigor and narrative flair.
Vanessa Gould
Bruce WeberMargalit FoxWilliam McDonald
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
William GrimesDouglas MartinPaul VitelloJeff Roth
Kino Lorber
AMC Plus Documentaries
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4.4 out of 5 stars

104 global ratings

  1. 62% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 25% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 3% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 5% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 5% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

VWReviewed in the United States on October 29, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Marvelous Tribute To Obituary Writers
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I absolutely loved this movie. Of course, I get the NY Times and read the obituaries - these marvelous, compressed biographies about remarkable, interesting or infamous people absolutely unknown to me before reading of their death. The huge headliners like Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, etc. get on the front page of the Times. But what of people like Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, who survived the Nazi occupation of Lithuania in the ghetto? Under constant threat of death, he helped those who came to him with questions of Jewish law, issuing judgments and writing them down on little scraps of paper, which he buried in tin cans. Later they were retrieved and added to the long history of Jewish legal precedent. And that was only the beginning of his life! That obituary, which was written by Douglas Martin - one of the writers in the movie - I have kept on my fridge for something like 14 years! It is yellowed and frayed, but goes with me whenever I move, because Rabbi Oshry's life is an inspiration. And now, having watched the movie, I see how much effort goes into these pieces. They are celebrations of life, the word "death" appearing only once. I highly recommend this movie. It is both a tribute to these wonderful writers and to those they write about.
8 people found this helpful
HarperReviewed in the United States on April 14, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Absolutely fascinating.
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Like the other five star reviews, I was really intrigued and spellbound immediately, so the movie itself worked its magic on me too.

Watching the hard work of mind control and its effectiveness in exactly how it works, seeing the strategy and working together creating the Obits to inform & entertain people, as well as re-telling the events that changed the world. One should deduce that every department of the TIMES is a well oiled machine working its magic. In their own words "cast spells" , this can be a very useful and educational documentary if you pay close attention to how their are controlling the masses through information. They keep control of the hive mind and literally curate it. Despite the internet making them work harder (advance obits) they seem to be coping well. Curiously, in the clip morgue the "clip keeper's" first statement is that the Times keep the hard copies called clips "in case the internet doesn't work out" and their use of the word die in the present tense.
They pull the heartstrings of the people very well.
One person found this helpful
prisrobReviewed in the United States on August 20, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Dearly Beloved
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A good obituary is 2% about your death and the otber 98% is about your life, so says Margalit Fox, Senior Obituary Writer for the New York Times. Most of us of a certain age, read the obituaries everyday. Not as the old joke goes to see if you are still alive, but to see how many of your friends might have died.

Obits are important, we learn a lot about the dead person, and when someone from the New York Times calls to talk about your loved ones recent death, you sit up straight. It is a big deal to have a NYT obit, a big deal, indeed. In this film we meet five or six of the obit writers from the NYT, and we learn about their jobs. It is a difficult job, and when assigned an obit, they want to know as much about someone as they can. The writer spends up to 8 hours writing 800 to a 1,000 words. They do not want any errors. They talk to as many people as possible to learn about this person. Often they become enamored about this person, they may know more about this person than the loved ones. They need a cause of death, and they don't fool around. There may be details the family does not want shared, but if it is pertinent it goes in. The obit writers have had upset family members threaten bodily harm. This is a fascinating subject, and we should all be aware of our mortality.

The New York Times has it's own morgue, where they keep files of important people, and over 1,000 people have obits already started. These are important people in their late 50's and 60's. An obit is needed as soon as possible. This film gives us the entire story, and it is a great one, fascinating, interesting and very well spoken and intelligent people are part of this department. There is nothing gross or dark about Obits, everyone should see it.

Recommended. prisrob 08-19-17
12 people found this helpful
The Wright StoryReviewed in the United States on November 5, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is a film that makes your heart zing & embrace life!
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I was fascinated by this film! It was a work of art and told the stories in such a way that I couldn't keep my eyes off of it. Watched it 3 times, introduced the film to my friends... Great great great!
3 people found this helpful
J. ArenaReviewed in the United States on October 30, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Intriguing look into the world of obits and those who create them!
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This is an engrossing exploration of the little-known world of obituary writers. Engaging to learn just how dedicated they must be to sensitivity, impeccable research and attention to detail. If you are looking for an action-adventure film, look elsewhere. However, if you admire brilliant work and love to learn how it is done, you have found the right film.
6 people found this helpful
Anna BellaReviewed in the United States on August 23, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Makes you wish you could write this well for the living!
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Writing an excellent, perceptive, and (often) entertaining summary of someone's life is the subject matter of this film. It takes dedication to the facts, an honest and objective assessment of a person's legacy, and the skill to put it all together brilliantly in only 400-800 words. The obit team at the New York Times is a small but impressive staff who really get involved with their deceased subjects. Probing, consulting, exchanging input and ideas within a strictly enforced daily news deadline is acutely complex and very well covered. Tackling a challenging task, such as writing the lead about a complicated individual takes intuition, patience, and deep skills honed over a lifetime. The guy who runs the newspaper morgue clip file is a natural obsessive who flirts outrageously with the camera. Well worth a second viewing -- it is that good.
11 people found this helpful
fotopugReviewed in the United States on January 30, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great documentary
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Fascinating! Not only did I find the obit writers interesting, well-spoken and empathetic - I thought the director did a great job with the pace of the documentary, the use of home movies, etc. It was like an art film. Really enjoyed it.
6 people found this helpful
Stephen J. WhitfieldReviewed in the United States on February 20, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Nothing morbid at all
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Who would have thought that a compelling, fascinating and sometimes funny documentary could be made about the writers of obituaries for the New York Times? But "Obit" is far better than one might have imagined. It is a wonderful and even inspiriting film.
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