Astral City is a remarkable story of spiritual awakening and one man’s vision of the afterlife. Based on the novel “Nosso Lar” (Our Home) by medium Chico Xavier, this Brazilian adaptation remains faithful to the tale of Andre Luiz, a doctor who dies during routine surgery and becomes aware that life goes on after death. Andre’s prolonged journey through something that we could call Hell, and his redemption into a startling kind of Heaven, are what keep the viewer riveted.
The film opens with tableux of a wealthy, successful physician at the pinnacle of achievement with a beautiful family, a rich house, and a busy medical practice. We get hints that all is not as it seems, and then Luiz falls ill and gets rushed to the hospital. Andre Luiz actually dies on the operating table and comes to consciousness again in a horrible purgatory of fear, hunger, cold and helplessness. Surrounded by other souls in pain Andre falls into despair and, wondering how it is he could have landed in such a place, undergoes a form of life review that provides some answers.
After what seems like eons, Luiz becomes aware of other light beings that are helping some of the doomed souls out of purgatory, and he cries and prays for help as well. The light beings come for him and escort him to a wonderful city that exists in the upper atmosphere above Earth. It is this beautiful place that Luiz calls “Our Home.”
We find that the Astral City is indeed a place of healing and wonder, with futuristic modes of healing, travel, and communication. Here, Luiz learns how the laws of the universe work, how our thoughts and actions form our reality, and how he can overcome the anger, materialism, and egoism that destroyed his life. Over time, Luiz witnesses other souls arriving and departing and learns that reincarnation and returning to Earth is one of the best ways to master these life lessons.
Viewers will enjoy the cinematography and special effects, which are amazing in the purgatory scenes and stunning in the “heaven” scenes. The new technologies depicted are wondrous, as is the message that these forms of energy will soon become common on Earth. The musical score, by Philip Glass, is a moving accompaniment that magnifies everything Luiz is experiencing.
What makes this story especially compelling is that this is not another near death experience from one who awakens afterward, as moving as those can be, but instead a channeled account as relayed to the talented medium, Chico Xavier. Because of this the details and depth of vision and emotion far surpass anything possible in the few minutes typical of an NDE. We learn that “Our Home” is a birth right for everyone, and that all that is required to believe in an afterlife is an openness to some form of spirituality. The film says that people need stories of hope, and that is as true now as when the book was first written. Astral City is, above all, a story of hope.