Director Justin Baldoni on How Birth and Death are Beautifully, and Painfully, the Same
Clouds is based on the true story of Zach Sobiech, a high school senior with musical talent. Sobiech's a bold heart who meets mortality in a way that reminds us all what it can mean to be human. We had no idea when we started the conversation that by the end, Justin would pull back the veil for us, on the womb we’re all living inside for now.
“What do you say to somebody who's afraid to die?”
Director Justin Baldoni: I'm going to give you a one-minute version of what I believe. I believe that birth and death are the same. We spend our lives on this earth just like we spend our lives in the womb. We have 9 to 10 months in the womb, and we get all we need. We're developing our arms, eyes, and ears. We have no use for them in the womb, but we're coexisting in another place that is very, very different. It's a place where people are waiting for us, who are excited for us, who can influence our lives without us ever realizing it.
Then one day, we die of that womb, in a pretty painful process. Suddenly, we're born into this world that was existing the entire time. We had no eyes to see it because our eyes didn't work in there. They work here, and in this new world, all those things we were developing, we have use for. We suddenly need our eyes and ears and our lungs to breathe. All of the things we developed in the womb, we need here.
If you’re reading this and you are afraid of dying, just so you know, I am too.
My belief in this world, where we are right now, is that we're in the next room and all these things are developing, like empathy and compassion, kindness, love, sincerity. All the things we need to fix the world, to fix our healthcare system, to fix the movie industry, the political system, are all the spiritual attributes that make us human. Those are the arms and legs of this world that we're developing for the next.
My belief is that we're coexisting with that world, just like we coexisted with this world when we were in the womb. That is why I knew that Zach, as I was directing this movie, was right there with me every step of the way. It's why I had an empty director's chair with his name on it that nobody could sit in, because I believed he was sitting in it the whole time.
If you’re reading this and you are afraid of dying, just so you know, I am too. But at the end of the day, if we have a belief that this isn't the end, that maybe this is just another beginning, then it might ease a little bit of that anxiety that comes with having that illness. If you were to take a survey of all hospice workers, and they could tell you all the unexplainable and unbelievable things they’ve seen, it could help people believe that maybe this isn't the end.