Last weekend, Pete and I watched "Furious 7," the latest installment in the "Fast and Furious" film franchise. I wasn't expecting much, but the final scene took my breath away.
After all of the obligatory car chase rigmarole ends, the good guys are relaxing on the beach. They watch as Brian O'Connor, played by actor Paul Walker, runs in the sand with his wife and son.
This franchise isn't known for great acting, but as the characters deliver lines like, "That's where he belongs: home," and "Things are going to be different now," you realize they aren't just talking about the disbanding of their team. They're also commenting on the loss of their friend.
In November 2013, Walker died tragically in a single-car accident. He had not yet completed all of the scenes for "Furious 7" at that time, so a combination of CGI and his younger brothers' acting skills helped to fill in the gaps.
Vin Diesel's character abruptly leaves the beach scene, too overcome with sadness to stay on. He peels off in his car down a lonely road. Then, Paul Walker pulls up beside him in a white sports car. "Aren't you going to say goodbye?" he asks.
At this point, a reflective voice-over and bittersweet song underscore clips of Vin and Paul throughout the seven "Fast and Furious" films. It's like an in memoriam video tribute, and it's genuinely sad to watch.
At the close of this montage, they each drive off at a crossroads. Paul's white car goes left, while Vin's goes right. For a no-apologies action film, this scene was extremely moving -- almost haunting.
You knew that wasn't really Paul Walker in the white car, but it didn't matter. It looked and sounded just like him. And his goodbye brought closure to the characters, actors and audience watching.
Technology has great power when it comes to memorializing our dearly departed. At Coachella Music Festival in 2012, a hologram of the late rapper Tupac performed onstage with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
No one guessed Tupac would hit the stage. He's been deceased since 1996. But watching this thing that looked, moved and sounded just like Tupac rap and run around the stage blew away the audience and left the Internet in a state of shock and awe for weeks.
A BBC television series called "Black Mirror" features an episode in which a young widow orders a robot version of her late husband. He looks and feels just like her husband, and by downloading and synthesizing all of his texts, emails and social media posts, the robot talks, acts and reacts just like he did. Though at times he unsettles her, this robot ultimately brings a lot of peace to the mourning widow.
I wonder how much tech will continue to play a role in the way we mourn our loved ones? As of now, many memorialize the Facebook pages of the deceased and continue to post there years after the former account holder has passed.
My big question is: when the line between tasteful and disturbing arrives, will we know we've crossed it? Have we done so already?
--Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.