Because they’re designed to immerse us in their world, movies are one of the best triggers for past-life memories. When that happens, the memory that’s been dozing in our subconscious suddenly wakes up and gives us a prod.
The emotions we felt at the time are usually the first thing to come up. Flashes of the actual memory may then follow. We may also get a strong sense of inner knowing that we once lived in that kind of world.
I was there!
In 1936 an incident took place in a Liverpool cinema that startled not just one person but the whole audience. The movie was showing the beheading of Lady Jane Grey, who was queen for just nine days in Tudor England. Suddenly a young woman in the audience shouted out ‘It’s all wrong! I was at the execution!’
Afterwards she said she suddenly knew that she’d been a lady-in-waiting at that event. Her memory of the executioner was especially clear. She said he wore black bands around his wrists as a sign of his grim office. They weren’t part of his costume in the movie – like many other details she said were incorrect.
These days, when a movie reminds us of a past life, we’re less likely to be quite so startled by it. We probably won’t leap up and blurt things out. We’re starting to take this kind of effect more in our stride – but it can still be unexpected.
A friend of mine went to see an acclaimed Chinese movie about concubines called Raise the Red Lantern. She said it hit her so hard that she wandered around the streets of London for hours afterwards. That was her way of absorbing the impact of realizing that she’d just seen something very like one of her own past lives.