Dr. Jack Kevorkian (1928 - 2011 ) in the 1990s, when he defies Michigan law assisting the suicide of terminally-ill persons. Support comes from his sister, a lab tech, the Hemlock Society president, and a lawyer. The child of survivors of the Armenian genocide interviews applicants: his sister video tapes them. He assembles a device allowing a person to initiate a three-chemical intravenous drip. The local D.A., the governor, and the Legislature respond. In court scenes, Kevorkian is sometimes antic. He's single-minded about giving dying individuals the right to determine how their lives will end. He wants the Supreme Court to rule. He picks a fight he can't win: is it hubris or heroism? Written by
Based on Neal Nicol's and Harry Wylie's novel, "Between the Dying and the Dead: Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the Assisted Suicide Machine and the Battle to Legalize Euthanasia." It was published by Vision in 2006. See more »
Several of the police cars in the movie are shown with new LED lightbars. LED lightbars on emergency vehicles did not enter mainstream use until the mid-2000's, and certainly not in the 1990's or before. See more »
[Jack Kevorkian takes the stand, Thompson is the prosecutor]
Can we all presume just for the hell of it that we are really in a courtroom, okay? That there is a judge and a jury and real witnesses?
No, I will not presume. I refuse to presume.
Can we presume that this is a real trial here?
No, we can't. Because there's no law here. Am I wrong?
Prove it. Cite to me one common law case of assisted suicide. One.
I will ask the questions...
Go ahead. I'm listening. We're all waiting.
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A compelling, interesting, informative docudrama of Dr. Death in which you may find either dark or may cheer depending on your stance with euthanasia.
HBO for one has always been the champion and best king of all-time when it comes to showing original movies, and once again they delivered a gripping and touching docudrama that will long stand in memory. Al Pacino who is always brilliant delivers once again a stand up and cheer for performance(the same way he did with his last HBO work as right wing republican closeted homosexual attorney Roy Cohn who died of AIDS). Pacino who was made to look just like Dr. Jack! Captures the man's movements and actions just perfect and so wonderfully done is his take of Kevorkian's proper northern Michigan accent. Still at the same time Pacino plays this character with some mystery as clearly the role didn't call for any showing off.
Directed by Barry Levinson(who did the award winning 1988 "Rain Man")this is a film in my opinion was a Dr. Jack against the world attitude. As clearly while watching this docudrama which is blended in with some real life media interviews of Jack's like the ones with Mike Wallace and Barbara Walters you get the feel that this film is a good cultural flash of somewhat of a media circus. Still most telling is the stubbornness of Jack as his desire to provide alternative deaths for the terminally ill outweighs anything else the films shows.
It starts in the early 1990's in Michigan as Dr. Jack Kevorkian(Al Pacino)who's bored and living like a lonely hermit with his creepy art drawings and enjoyment of watching Bugs and Tweety cartoons. All of a sudden Jack has an ideal to take the medical community by storm should I say a death storm, he wants to start assisted suicides to the sick and terminally ill and also for those who don't want to live no more. Dr. Jack is aided and supported by his sister Margo(Brenda Vaccaro)and buddy Neal(John Goodman)and enter the outspoken advocate Susan Sarandon who plays euthanasia crusader and right to die advocate Janet Good.
Along the way in a compelling and gripping fashion Kevorkian and his friends carry out death after death of those with terminal cancer, MS, the crippled, the depressed and many others who have deadly diseases. And along the way this man who feels so passionate about it he even records speeches and the actual passing away of his victims. One by one "Dr Death" gets America's attention which stirs up controversy in Michigan from the religious right and state politicians and county legislatures. Gradually the film drifts into more of a courtroom drama asking what is morally right or wrong? It's interesting and entertaining to see an old fart fight stubbornly till the age of 79.
So no matter your take on euthanasia(even though this film is pro argument for it)"You Don't Know Jack" is a lovable story that is sold wonderful from the great performances especially Al's who's right on the money and believable as "Dr. Death". It's really a great biography that educated us about the life and stubbornness of Jack Kevorkian, while at the same time an interesting, compelling and dark outspoken anti-hero docudrama that makes some want to feel grim and others want to cheer depending on what side of the aisle they take on the issue. A must see film that's controversial, historical and cultural.
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