No Commentary Necessary — “The Coffinmaker”

I said commentary was unnecessary. And I meant it.  But I just can’t help myself.

It’s a beautiful short; muted, meditative, and perfectly lit. So it’s in my wheelhouse, artistically. But it’s successful on a much richer, more important level than merely a visual one, and I come away unexpectedly and deeply moved — not just because it looks and sounds lovely, but because it so successfully captures Marcus Daly and his unusual, beautiful work.

The short’s emphasis on the hand-crafting aspects of Daly’s work is particularly wonderful, and I found myself nearly as inspired by that as I was by the more overtly religious aspects of the philosophy that enlivens his creations — though perhaps those two are closer to one another than I realize. The tendrils of wood escaping as he planes the boards; the way he runs his fingers over the beads of glue; the wooden mallet he uses to sink his dowels and the old-fashioned saw he uses to trim them; the painstaking sanding, carving, and inlaying that gives each coffin its final, polished look. The man is a true craftsman.

It’s much more than just an ad, though. It’s a manifesto.

“I think we’re meant to carry each other. I think that carrying someone you love and committing them is very important for us when we deal with death. We want to know that we have played a part and shouldered our burden.”

The video was uploaded last month, and already has over 50,000 views.It made Vimeo’s Staff Picks page, and was featured on The Smithsonian’s video contest blog, Smithsonian in Motion. Our very own Mark Shea weighed in, as well — with a particularly personal perspective.  I don’t think I’ve ever been more pleased to see something “go viral.” (You can learn more about the short’s creator, Dan McComb, at his website. I recommend his “Made in Seattle” series, which I just now realized I’ve been following for some time.)

Thank you, Marcus Daly and Marian Casketsfor the ever-timely reminder that Death does not need to fill us with dread.

About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.

  • Maggie Goff

    I thank you. I watched this when Mark put it up, but for some reason it really, really affected me now, and I’m practically sobbing. So much beauty, it’s almost overwhelming…. in a very good way.

  • Gordis85

    I watched this one a few weeks back and thought it a very beautiful reflection on death…”it is then that we are born into eternity” as I watched the film.

    I used to think I would request to be buried under a big Sycamore tree with the shade to soothe me and the swaying of its leaves, music to my ears. Then I realized something…I do not plan to be in the ground forever!

    Thanks for sharing this little beauty of fine film making.

  • Marcus

    Thank you for this, Joseph.


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