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There is one scene in this film where Ramon Sampedro is laying in his
bed, looking out through his window at the world outside. He slowly
gets up from his bed, runs and literally flies through the window, over
the beautiful Galician landscape with such speed and beauty till he
finally arrives at his destination point: the sea where he meets up
with the woman he has fallen in love with and passionately kisses her.
Then, cut back, he's still in that bed, eyes longing so badly for the
freedom to simply see the sea with his own two eyes.
Its moments like these that make The Sea Inside soar, as the audience becomes Ramon Sampedro, flying over the landscapes to the one thing that made his life worth living. The Sea Inside is exactly that: the endless depths of the mind that Ramon has been reduced to. He dreams of seeing the sea again, of seeing his nephew grow up and become successful, yet at the same time, he dreams of ending his life in a way that will not burden those that he loves.
This film offers no simple answers to such a controversial issue, it only tells one point of view of one man who does not parade his beliefs around, only offers them at face value to those who will listen. This is what makes the film so insightful: that those with opposing views to the issue can maybe see a different perspective within the film. Sampedro rather stresses the point that he had lived a life traveling the world, meeting people, working a job he absolutely loves, and living his life to the absolute fullest. Yet after his accident, he was confined to a bed in his older brother's house, spending hours staring out the window, completely dependent on his family to care for him.
Javier Bardem does wonders with this character, acting in a role where facial expressions mean everything since he can not use any other part of his body. His eyes speak volumes of words, and the language Sampedro uses shows just how intelligent this man really is. Bardem delivers his words without wanting pity or sympathy from those around him. This is his life and he wants no special favors as evidenced by the presence of Rosa who at first meets Sampedro to convince him to live, then slowly falls in love with him. Bardem is severely restricted in this role, yet because he is such a charming actor, the audience was easily able to sympathize for him.
The Sea Inside offers beautiful cinematography for the dream sequences that occur. The script, though repetitive at times, was always insightful of the tribulations Sampedro went through on a daily basis for nearly 28 years. His wanting to die, because he viewed life as "a privilege, and not an obligation" as he so elegantly put it. The film is profoundly affecting to the viewer, though it offers no answers to the issue that is euthanasia. But if you go into this film with an open mind, you will leave the theatre knowing the reasoning behind one man's journey to die with dignity and for that, I recommend this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Sea Inside" is something of a mistranslation. "Mar adentro"
actually means "out to sea". The main character, Ramon Sampedro, is a
paraplegic who injured his spinal cord in a diving accident and has
been confined to his bed, immobile, for 26 years. He longs to return to
the sea, and does so in flights of fancy. The film's official English
title is admissible as poetic licence, since Ramon carries the sea
inside himself, breathing its briny air from afar, but not seeing its
But I must admit the film left me at sea, or adrift in a shifting sea of philosophical views about life and death and their ultimate meaning. In particular, Ramon says he believes there is no afterlife -- we simply return to the nothingness from which we came. He fails to address the great issues of where we come from and why we here. Moreover, his statement begs another question. If death is nothingness and oblivion, why would we not cling to even the dreariest, most paltry existence, rather than no existence at all? "The Sea Inside" paradoxically shows that, even after Ramon's death by assisted suicide, he lived on in the poetry he wrote and published, the memories of those who loved and cared for him, and of course now the film itself.
"The Sea Inside" is a paradox in many ways. It shows us a man who yearns to die, but lives more intensely than most ever do ... a man who says he cannot love (that is, have sex), but is surrounded by love (that is, caring) every day of his life ... a man who longs to be free from the limitations of his disability, but fails to see how he has enslaved those around him.
Javier Bardem (Before Night Falls) gives a bravura performance as Ramon Sampedro, one that will undoubtedly be remembered at Oscar time. He is surrounded by a solid supporting cast.
The film is, for the most part, an honest, unflinching, clear-eyed look at the issue of whether people should have the right to die with dignity rather than endure degenerative and life-diminishing physical conditions. There are occasional lapses into sentimentality and, as noted above, intellectual dishonesty. But these are minor flaws that do not overly detract from the quality of the work as a whole.
The scene where Ramon "flies" out the window of his bedroom and out to the sea was something of a disappointment, and I thought the choice of "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot" was less than inspired. ("Birdy" contained a similar sequence that was far more memorable, and with much better musical accompaniment.) Ramon's death scene also pulls its punches. We are told that death by ingesting potassium cyanide is painful, but it seems as though Ramon only experiences a few hot flashes. The film should at least be honest about the fact that death may be a consolation, but there is nothing easy about dying.
For all its inconsistencies and minor flaws, "The Sea Inside" is a must, especially Javier Bardem's brilliance in the leading role.
See it before night falls.
In my short life, I'm 22, I've never seen such a beautiful movie. I really don't care about all the hype about Euthanasia and free will. What I see in this movie is the story of a human being. For a person like me, this is a story worth telling not just to make people cry, but to make them think about life, to show them what other people think in other parts of the world. Ramon is just a man who did what he wanted, being such a dual person, a poet that wants to die is really the biggest irony, he kept fighting for HIS cause. Life is really ours, WE chose what to make of it, may it be a successful or a damned one... So WE should also chose what to do with it, even if this means to end it. That is a choise each one of us makes when facing a situation like the one Ramon faced and is no business of anybody else but him (and god if you believe in him)to make it. I just wanted to say go see this movie, try and be as sensitive as you can and enjoy a beautiful movie, a very well made movie (technically speaking) and enjoy. After all, this is what movies are made for. To enjoy them.
"The Sea Inside (Mar adentro)" successfully accomplishes what few
movies do -- create an enthralling entertainment out of a debate about
a serious intellectual issue.
The key to how writer/director Alejandro Amenábar has done this is by giving each component of the debate a visual and emotional counterpart with very individual characters who have personable, understandable idiosyncrasies. This is both a very particular situation of one man and a universal one.
The discussion of assisted suicide is partly opened up by beautifully entering into Ramón Sampedro's mind as he remembers his old life before he was quadriplegic from a diving accident and fantasizes what life could be like if he could move. As played by Javier Bardem, he also is full of wit, dynamism and humor to keep our attention throughout.
The court room scene that is the usual centerpiece of Big Idea Movies with its convenient verbal duel is only a minor event as the issues are more nuanced and complicated as we care about so many different well-acted characters with their own feelings, reasons and tangled relationships.
We see the full panoply of types of love -- paternal, familial, filial, fraternal, celebrity worship, platitudes, professional respect, romantic, loyalty, and unselfish open-heartedness. We also see people of different classes who have different resources available to express themselves, from selfless deeds done day in and day out to poetry, though we can only presume that Ramon became an intellectual through his long years of no physical activity as the rest of his family is not.
But the active camera is also key. For example, one debate with a quadriplegic priest is shouted from the ends of a winding staircase that neither can navigate. When Ramon leaves his room we feel the effort of many people involved and the blast of a newly opened environment.
There are a few factual points that are a bit confusing and we can only infer time passage through such background counterpoint as a developing romance, pregnancy, birth and growing child and another character's gradually increasing disability.
The use of opera is a bit heavy-handed but the cinematography is lovely.
The film is co-written, co-produced, edited, directed, and the music
score composed by Alejandro Amenábar ("Open Your Eyes" aka "Abre Los
Ojos" 1997 with Penelope Cruz, "The Others" 2001 with Nicole Kidman) -
no small fête, and how masterful at the age of 32! Despite of the
subject of a 28-year bed-ridden fight to 'die with dignity,' it is a
surprisingly entertaining film about Ramón Sampedro, the people
revolving around him. It's a script that's full of life, presenting
different aspects of the living.
There is a maturely quiet, big-hearted sister-in-law whose a housewife and mother - Manuela, superbly played by Mabel Rivera; a persistent young single mother who's sort of a 'groupie' in want of life lessons - Rosa, spunky and befittingly portrayed by Lola Dueñas; an intellectual woman lawyer, fragile and frustrated by the limiting degenerative disease she possesses - Julia, a keen nuanced performance from Belén Rueda; a cheerfully supportive activist/pregnant wife/mother-to-be - Gené, played by Clara Segura. Then there are the men: José, Ramón's ever-frustrated elder brother, refusing to accept his brother's terminal predicament; Joaquín, his father, taciturn and sad about a son dying before he does; Javi, the teenage nephew, eager to help Ramón yet there's much he's to learn about appreciating life; and there's Marc, Gené's husband and Ramón's lawyer represented in court; and Julia's husband, a small part yet the thread of 'lifeline' to Julia..
And of course, there's the incomparable Javier Badem outdoing himself. What a performance! A man basically in bed all the time, almost motionless due to his quadriplegic state, yet he's full of movement using mouth, eyes, head, tongue and wit.
Amenábar's script, written with fellow filmmaker ("Open Your Eyes") Mateo Gil, is sensitively flawless. The repeats of Ramón's flashback moments of the fateful accident are aptly paced; the imagined flying sequence and encounters by the beach are at once powerful and beautifully tender; the inclusion of the priest visiting scene raises thought-provoking questions about such imposing generalizing assumptions that can be so wrong. His own scoring of the music is an integral part of Amenábar's directed films - it definitely adds value to the storytelling, providing various hues and tones to the performances of the actors. Cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe is well choreographed with yet another personal effort from Amenábar's own film editing.
"The Sea Inside" truly deserves your attention and viewing. Filmmaker Amenábar may not provide answers in his film, but prompts thinking - if not questions - about the meaning of life, of death and living that go hand in hand. As Ramón leaves in the van, the passing by scenes of nature, people, animals seen beyond the window denote the rhythm of life is vibrant and celebrated with the upbeat (Celtic) tempo of the music we hear. His journey is not at all dismal but pulsating to his own heartbeat.
Hm, the technical detail approach towards the end just might briefly reminds one of Errol Morris' "Mr. Death" yet the poetry of it all is steadily sustained throughout the film, very much to the credit of Badem's mastery. Alejandro Amenábar has once again delivered a wonderful film experience beyond compare.
It is hard to see Ramon's problem. In the course of the brief period
covered by this film, two women fall in love with him, he writes and
publishes a book, enjoys celebrity status, earns a great deal of
respect from those who know him, and is surrounded by caring and
accommodating relatives. He has a more fulfilling life and achieves
more than most of us do in our own four-limbed lifetimes. On top of
that, he is absolved of any of his own shortcomings - none of it is his
own fault - doesn't have to endure the drudgery of work, and can take
solace in the fact (if he cared to) that he could well have ceased to
exist at the time of his accident many years earlier. He could also get
out and about in a wheelchair if he wanted to.
Of course, someone has to feed him and wipe his bum, but that seems to be all that is bothering him. If he still has some legitimate gripe with fate, all I'm saying is that he has less excuse than many other people in similar situations, and this rather undermines the film. To really tackle the issue of terminating life by your own hand, we needed somebody whose life is truly lost and empty - at least someone who does not publish a book for chrissake - an achievement arguably as valuable as having children.
It begins to puzzle us too much that Ramon cannot accept his lot, and I don't think the film is intended to be a psychological mystery. Alright then, assume that Ramon still has a problem facing life. This is where the film should really have delved into the meaning of life and death, but didn't. The truest moment in the film comes where he berates himself in the night for simply not wanting to live. This means there's something else within Ramon that the film, despite it's pretentious title, does not even begin to touch, never mind tackle or explain. And despite his evident literary talents, Ramon never adequately explains himself.
We must simply assume that Ramon is an unsentimental old so-and-so. But there's the paradox: if Ramon is not sentimental, he wouldn't write poetry and dream of flying out the window (rather an immodest ambition). If he is truly sentimental, he wouldn't want to die on account of the intrinsic value of the sentiments themselves. The film tries to have it both ways and this leaves one feeling unconvinced, dissatisfied, and feeling somewhat manipulated.
Javier Bardem has an easy time acting in bed (virtually anyone could take on such a role successfully). The role of the lawyer just confounded things. The real beauty in the film was in the peaceful and serene atmosphere the film evoked, and in Ramon's relatives, who stoically got on with their lives but who were forced to live with Ramon and his deathwish on a daily basis for many years. One suspects a movie about any one of these family members would have been just as interesting and rewarding.
All in all a nice film but one that doesn't go anywhere deep enough or tell us anything important enough about the subject it wanted to tackle.
First let me say that I didn't approach this film with any bias. I
think Javier Bardem is a great actor and I liked Amenabar's "Thesis"
very much. I don't have a fixed opinion on euthanasia and I intend to
judge this film's quality, not its ideology. That said...
Is it just me, or the script sucks? It's full of clichés and platitudes. Given such a controversial topic, it should have been quite original, with at least two or three twists and turns. Instead, all we get is:
"I wanna die, I wanna die, I wanna die." "Maybe you don't wanna die because of (insert cliché here)." "Hum... No, I wanna die, I wanna die, I wanna die."
And what's with the actors? Rueda is absolutely contrived, she acts like she's playing Blanche from "The Streetcar", an old diva with mannerisms. Bardem? I usually love the guy, but here he made me want to puke after his thirtieth fake smile in half an hour. The only actor I can truly commend is the one who plays his brother. He's marvelous, but he's got too little screen time. The nephew is also good, but his role is not that demanding.
Amenabar knows how to direct a movie, but his work here is uninspired. I gave the film a vote of 6 because of some great cinematography. Still, a few sweeping shots over beautiful countryside are not enough to make me like this film or recommend it to anyone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
having just finished watching this movie, i wonder how many have had even a little taste of what that man felt for 28 years. i'm not going to pull the technical aspects of the movie apart as i'm not qualified to do so, suffice to say i watched it all and felt for his family who were indeed as his brother in his frustration pointed out "his slaves". i doubt you will find a handicapped/disabled person anywhere that does not feel that they have forced their families into that position..unwillingly of course, both sides are captives in a situation both have to make the best of, yes i do have firsthand experience of what i talk of, i had a stroke a few years ago , i only know that watching that movie and on rising to come to computer after wards being grateful that i could.
"Mar Adentro" is a story about a quadriplegic fisherman who has fought for a 30-year campaign in support of euthanasia and his right to end his own life after his diving accident. I see again there are both hater and lovers for this movie. Personally I adored the performance of Javier Bardem as Ramon Sampedro. It is not easy to act out a crippled man. I really think he gave something from his soul to the movie. Other than that the other actors and actresses are pretty good too. The messages of the movie are really great."Now you tell him that moral issues are not resolved through polls." "the Institution accepts the death penalty and condemned for centuries to the bonfire those who didn't think in the right way" are just some of the great quotes by Ramon Sampedro. Yeah you may think whether they had to make a reference to Hitler or something between the lines but what I really think the movie wraps its message in a great way and I never thought it has some sort of demagoguery in it it is there a realistic piece of life. Don't care about the haters just watch it yourself and decide!
I bought this film because I thought that its theme of Euthanasia might be of interest to junior doctors and medical students. There is not a doctor in sight, and the themes of life, death, disability, family, friendship, society, religion and the law are dealt with in a living manner. The questions have no easy answers, no one is free of the ties of love and tradition, and even as Ramon dies I only felt confusions and questions still circling his bed. This was no trite "euthanasia is right" film, but showed all the grey painful areas of dying, love, and family. The only wrong stance to take in euthanasia is that it is a simple issue! I found the film very dramatic and realistic - these people are like living humans in a real world - it could almost have been a "fly on the wall documentary". Oh by the way it is in Spanish with English subtitles - I knew no Spanish, but by the end of the film I knew the characters. Watch this film if you need to think about life before, during and after life.!
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