Life story of Spaniard Ramón Sampedro, who fought a 30-year campaign to win the right to end his life with dignity. Film explores Ramón's relationships with two women: Julia, a lawyer who supports his cause, and Rosa, a local woman who wants to convince him that life is worth living. Through the gift of his love, these two women are inspired to accomplish things they never previously thought possible. Despite his wish to die, Ramón taught everyone he encountered the meaning, value and preciousness of life. Though he could not move himself, he had an uncanny ability to move others. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Relax. You're feeling calmer and calmer. Now imagine a movie screen, opening before you. On it, imagine your favorite place. Concentrate on your breathing, allowing your whole body to relax, to feel at peace. Keep it going. Just let it come and go... come and go... Now you are there. Notice the details: the colors, the textures, the light, the temperature. Feel the temperature. Let this tranquil scene unfold before you. The sensation of peace is infinite.
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Mostly excellent story of a man who wants out of life
The true story of a Spanish paraplegic, Ramón Sampedro, who fought for decades for the right to be euthenized. This film, along with the Best Picture winner of the same year, Million Dollar Baby, caused a stir that year with their depictions of disabled persons desiring death. Both advocates for the disabled and (unfortunately for the disability advocates) conservative pro-life groups protested both films, and their Oscar nominations. The nominations also came during the entire Terry Schiavo debacle, just to put it all in some historical perspective. The protests, especially from the disability groups, against Million Dollar Baby make some sense the film clearly depicted, without wavering, the life of a paraplegic as worthless. The film's central character, Maggie Fitzgerald, becomes a paraplegic, doesn't seem to get any counseling whatsoever, no help whatsoever, and immediately wants to die. The film is, honestly, pretty dumb and uncomplex. The Sea Inside, based on the true story, is certainly a lot more thoughtful on the subject. It most likely got railroaded into the same category as Million Dollar Baby without its protesters having even seen it, an incredibly common phenomenon. The film does give time to many different sides of the argument. And it immediately declares that the wish to die is that of the protagonist and the protagonist alone. It is guilty of a couple of crimes, though, and I'd still understand why disability groups could have a problem with it. First and foremost, there's the protagonist's meeting with a paraplegic bishop. I don't look kindly on the way he's depicted. His orally operated wheelchair is depicted as absurd, and there's almost a comic sequence where his effeminate, boy-toy servants are dragging him, in his chair, up the stairs. He can't even reach the room in which Ramón is located, and one of the boy-toys is forced to carry the conversation between them. I had to think, gee, maybe if Ramón lived in a slightly more wheelchair-accessible household, he wouldn't spend his entire life in bed, and might find life more fulfilling (who knows how closely the film depicts the reality). Director Amenábar (The Others) also includes some laughable scenes that try to make this film about suicide more life-affirming, like a cross-cut sequence where Ramón looks thoughtful and his lawyer's baby is born. But besides a few ugly moments, the film is very good. It hurts that someone may want to die when they have the ability to bring so much joy and insight into the lives of others. However, in the end, our lives do belong to us. Shouldn't we have the right to choose? The film's strongest asset is its supporting characters, and the actors who play them. It depicts how Ramón's fight and decisions affect those around him with a beautiful precision. The family members in particular are great, and Ramón's final departure from them is absolutely heartbreaking, and had me in tears. My favorite performance in the film comes from Lola Dueñas, whom I also felt gave the best, or at least certainly most undervalued, performance in Almodóvar's Volver last year.
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