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 need not fill us with dread.

Attribution(s): Publicity images, and stills are the property of Dan McComb and all respective creators and/or distributors.